Sunday, March 26, 2017

San Mateo Festival Purchases

Saturday I went with my husband to Bay Area Quilt, Craft, and Sewing Festival held at the San Mateo County Event Center. This is an annual outing for my husband and me and traditionally I report to my daughter via my blog about what I bought. My goals this time were to be practical and not too frivolous in any purchases, to avoid buying kits, and mainly to enjoy the drive and the day with my husband. I met all my goals.

These plaids and stripes are intended for use as bindings. I bought one yard of each. The plaids have so many colors I think they will be versatile enough to serve as bindings on a selection of quilts. The stripes however surprised me when I got home and opened them to fold in my habitual way. The stripes run at right angles to the selvage not parallel to it! Normally I cut my bindings across the width of the fabric and this makes stripes radiate outward from the quilt top. I am guessing I can cut these along the length of the fabric and get the same effect. I know fabric is less stretchy along the grain than across the grain but I hope this does not affect binding.

Since apparently I am into stripes for binding, I bought these navy/white and black/white options. (I do pause momentarily to wonder where all these quilts are coming from that I am going to bind.) Not to worry. Stripes are flexible enough I can use them elsewhere as blender pieces. They will also go well with florals or other novelty prints. The navy one on the right is diagonally striped so I do think I will try to reserve it for binding without having to fussy cut bias binding to get the same effect. I got ½ yard of that and a full yard of the black/white pinstripe.

This knitting sheep fabric was my one concession to moderate frivolity. The coral and lime and aqua color scheme caught my eye first. Then when I saw they were sheep knitting, I caved and bought one yard. I might just whip up a drawstring bag to store the yarn of whatever my current knitting project is.

I collect fabric license plates from stores I frequent, whether I go there personally or see them at a show. I do not sew them into a quilt. I line them up marching along the wall at the ceiling line of my sewing room. One per store though, and that is it. I do not buy a plate yearly per store though I recently earned that the plates for a shop can change each year. This one tickled me since it is so true for me with needles and thread of late. I do buy from the Rabbit Hole Quilt Shop when they are present at a show I attend.

I got this silicone iron rest plate to see if my Rowenta iron will leak less when resuming pressing after a brief pause. Out of habit through the years I orient my iron upright when it is not in my hands in use. It shuts itself off as the safety feature now require it to do, so when I rotate it to resume ironing, the condensed steam leaks out. Perhaps if I rest it in the flat rather than upright position it will leak less when it is set for steam. This modified habit will be hard to establish for me. I hope the leakage is a position issue of my Rowenta and not a problem with the iron. It does not leak while I am using it – only after it resumes after a safety imposed shut-off.

Although I could easily make these pillows without a pattern, I liked the idea of them each being made with 2½" charm pack squares.  I do not buy those itty bitty charm packs but I do have quite a bit of partial strips from  2½" wide jelly rolls that I would like to dice into squares and use up. I also have some 5" charm packs that I could quarter and use. Each pillow is 16" square so four or six (or more) of them could work up quickly into a cute scrap quilt. Maybe perhaps I could make each 16" block in a different colorway ?

The final purchase was at my husband's urging. Our son has a bunny rabbit and tends to poke unwanted objects and his fingers between the wires of its cage. This blue vinyl mesh may discourage this behavior while still giving the bunny adequate ventilation. The roll of mesh came with a free tote bag pattern so why not give it a try?

The show did not have as many vendors as usual and was more sparsely attended than the norm. But its low key tone and my goals were in sync. The weather cooperated by being a beautiful sunny day. My husband and I had  pleasant afternoon.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sharing a Granny Square Legacy

My kids were fortunate to have two very talented and prolific grandmothers. Their paternal grandma crocheted and their maternal grandma knitted. This week I worked on seeing that the granny square baby blankets crocheted by my husband's mother would find a good home rather than withering away in a bin in our attic.  My husband said, and rightfully so, that we were doing the afghans and his mom a disservice by letting them linger, unused due to sentimentality. He especially pushed that I part with them so that another mother and baby somewhere could make good use of them. It was difficult for me but I was willing to see them go if I knew they were going to a good home, where they would be appreciated, even if they got beaten up in the process. This photo with my daughter and her grandma the crocheter was taken in about 1982.

I suggested that we use the upcoming quilt show of my guild as a vehicle for disbursing the baby afghans. After checking with the guild member in charge of the market place at our upcoming guild show, my husband and I agreed on the following plan. I was told baby items tend to sell quickly. What could be sold at the show would be sold. After all, if people are willing to pay money for something they must want it. All the proceeds from the sales would go toward the fabrication of community outreach quilts for the ill, aged, and underprivileged. Those that did not sell would be donated to a local charity or hospital program that helps out moms and babes in need.

I unfolded each crocheted item and smoothed it out for one last look. Even though they had been meticulously cared for, I checked for holes or stains, then measured each and photographed it. Only one had a small stain and two had some tears that I will see if I can repair. I held those three back from among the ones being given away. Here are the ones that were in pristine condition and very serviceable. They are folded in fourths and the center of the blanket is in the lower right corner. I let my own children select from them what they wanted as a legacy keepsake for their kids from their great grandmother. They were very much on board with giving away the generous supply.

These went to my daughter's family – one per child and one favorite. The mint green and white one is being deployed in the baby carriage beneath the orange clown in the photo of my ~2 month old daughter taken in 1980.

These went to my son's family – one per child and potential future children.

My son and his older sister would often snuggle side by side beneath one of the larger afghans. This was one of the ones I set aside because it was in need of repair - not surprising after a such a lot of lovin'. It had been set on point and diagonal granny square triangles along the edges are not as sturdy when tugged and stretched. This photo is from ~1984. It is a bit faded; the yarn was a variegated pastel.

These will be sold or given away.

By placing these lovingly handcrafted afghans in my blog, I can still see them – even better and oftener than when they were in the attic. This larger family afghan is still in use in our household about 35 years later. By the way, the brown stuffed dog was a favorite named Huck. Huck is short for Hugs and Kisses. My daughter also had a smaller version she named Tiny Baby Hucklet.

Sometimes we just need to stop the frenzied creation of our own projects and appreciate the works of those who came years before us. There will be time for me to get back to my quilting but for now, I feel good about devoting the time and effort deploying our plan to redistribute these treasures. Thank you for walking down memory lane with me. I will also share these reminisces with my online quilting community at this week's Let's Bee Social #168.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Custom Shop Hop

Mid-week a quilting friend and I went on a mini shop hop to a few quilt stores that we had wanted to check out and had never visited. They were Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley, New Pieces in Berkeley, and Bay Quilts in Richmond. The first one was just under an hour's drive from my house. It took us a little longer, not because of traffic, but rather because we were yacking so much I missed our exit – twice on two different roads – and we had to depend on Siri to patiently reroute us.

We'd both heard folks describe Stonemountain & Daughter as being a huge shop that we just had to see. Well, it was big with several rooms and two floors but it was not exclusively quilting cottons. It had a lot of knits and blends and suiting materials for the garment industry. The store did not excite either of us to any great extent. Street parking in the city was also a bear. We agreed we were both suburbanites – neither city nor country gals. We were glad we had come so we knew we were not missing out an anything but would not be in any great hurry to return. I did buy two short yardages, ½ yard and ¾ yard each of roughly ½" wide stripes to stockpile for bindings; but, other than that, nothing much appealed.

We moved on to New Pieces Quilt Shop and loved, positively loved, the place! It was bright and cheery and pretty extensive with some unique cotton fabrics we had not encountered before. I selected with restraint fearing that with my "fabricaholic" tendencies, my purchase of that one fabric over the previous weekend at the Manteca Quilters' Show could propel me down that slippery slope of impulse fabric buying. Initially I stuck pretty  close to my potential purchase plan of only blenders. I got ½ yard each of these three selections - a mesh look, a wavy stripe and a texture-look solid. That bright green at the bottom does not have the rough feel of linen but it sure looks that way. And its color saturation...? Intense!

Then this cheery print with its lively dashes of green caught my eye. It is called Rooftop Gardens. Again I did not overdo it. I bought enough for a simple pillow, ¾ yard - sufficient to satisfy my yen and still be able to use it up soon.

Rooftop Gardens comes from the City Life line by Alicia Jacobs for Ink & Arrow Fabrics. This was a new company to me. I checked out their website and they do have a fair share of cute novelty fabrics. This is one place I need to steer clear of for casual browsing but definitely keep in mind when I want a print from a specific niche. The site claims there is a hidden motif in each design. What fun!

On a similar vein, I bought this black and white house print. I am collecting fat quarters for a black and white quilt and thought this would be a unique accent for a featuring a few larger blocks throughout. I got ¾ yard instead of  ½ yard because the scale of the print is a bit bigger. The metal Bolt Buddy in the upper left is about ½" wide. So far so good for my travel purchases at this point in the trip. I have only bought some binding fabric, some flexible blenders, and an accent piece, each ¾ yard or less.

Then something striped and twiggy caught my eye. I liked this birch tree twig fabric. It was haunting me as being very familiar. It reminded me of some bird fabric at home that I thought it would go with. It was the end of the bolt. I did not just buy a little. I bought what was left, all 2½+ yards.

As soon as I got home, after our third and final shop, I ran upstairs to find my bird fabric. Alas, it was not as I remembered it and did not really go. It had birch trees alright but the scale and blue were all wrong. I was a little bummed that I had compromised one of my 2017 reduced-buying goals for no really good reason. I came back downstairs and as I walked past the RUG in my family room I had an epiphany.

That is what the twiggy fabric made me think of! That is why I liked it. I love the rug in our family room. It is called Passion Flower and is from Company C. The fabric coloration looked like it was made for that rug. The taupe, the navy, the aqua - all perfect!

I now will make two decent size pillows out of this twig fabric. I am debating pinch pleating one side of the pillow parallel to the twigs to give it texture and leaving the other side smooth. Here is the fabric close up, draped over the blue leather ottoman and rounded as it would be as a pillow. Now I am excited to do this!

On to the last shop of our hop! Bay Quilts a relatively new – less than one year old – shop in Richmond. It became a new affiliate of our quilt guild this year. The shop is in a warehouse/business park area, with easy access from the freeway and lots of parking. It was painted white inside, very airy with high beams wrapped in mini-lights for a festive fun feel. Bay Quilts hosts an artist's display that changes monthly. They had a huge supply of organic cottons in rich colors and blender patterns. I definitely know where to come back to when I have a more well-formed need in my mind. Here I broke my rule of no impulse novelty fabric purchases. (I self-imposed this rule because after all, every novelty fabric is another quilt.) But I saw selections in this shop that I had not seen other places.

I bought 2½ yards of timepiece fabric for a quilt backing for a quilt for my husband. The depth and detail in the fabric drew me in. He is into clocks and I am into fabric. What a match! Hmm. Now I need to make a quilt to match the backing fabric. That is a new approach. I am afraid this impulse buy will linger a bit in my stash.

I also bought this vibrant orange and black check by Julie Cairns for Quilting Treasures ©2016. It does not quite speak Halloween and the coordinating print was tending toward African animals but I liked it. I did refrain from buying other coordinating prints in the line. Perhaps this cloth could be clothes for grandkids? I do not know yet. I bought 1¼ yards. This was another non-dedicated impulse buy. But just looking at it makes me happy. I hope my tune does not change when I try to cram it into my closet. I know the solution – I will not try to fit it in. I will leave it out to look at and enjoy. Maybe it is my penchant for stripes and polka dots that draws me to this piece. I do love it though and have no buyer's remorse.

My final purchase was a striking panel – the lion and the lamb. It is called The Four Seasons - Spring by Julie Paschkis for In the Beginning Fabrics © 2017. It just begs to be machine quilted in some way. Look at all those swirls and curls! March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Note the swirling wind at the upper left of the lion.

Notice the bright sunshine and profusely blooming flowers with the lamb. I can't wait to quilt squiggles on that hillside.

This mini-custom shop hop was a great deal of fun – both the company and the fabrics. We will do it again sometime. But it is almost as much fun revisiting my purchases and writing about them. Let's see how much I sew up before a replenishment repeat trip.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Ideas From Manteca Quilt Show

Saturday March 5th, my husband and I went to the quilt show of the Manteca Quilters. It was a pleasant, small-to-medium size show, displaying 105 quilts. While admiring the creations of the guild's talented members I gathered some ideas for present and future quilts of my own.

As my past four posts will attest to, I have been working on Whirligigglesa quilt of six sided components – pinwheels and stars – and so this hexagon beauty capture my attention. The venue was compact and so I was unable to distance myself enough to get a photo of the entire quilt but this portion is enough to convey the awesomeness.

The free motion quilting on it was inspiring and I was wondering if I could in some way incorporate that in my Whirligiggles.

Since I am relatively new and inexperienced in free motion quilting, I am always on the lookout for stitching and pathway ideas. I like that this snowman was quilted in tune with his shape and that the density is just sufficient for my taste. Extremely dense quilting, although its look can be lovely – and usually is, is beyond my skill and patience level at this point. I agree with the Goldilocks approach to quilting this snowman - not too much, not too little... just right!

Moving on from FMQ to appliqué...  On my Whirligiggles quilt I am currently waffling on if I want to accent the pinwheels by covering their centers with contrasting circles or leave those precisely converging points that I am so proud of exposed? Contrasting dots in the middle do add a bit of pizazz, but do I really want to hide those centers? My piecing is good but my appliquéing needs a lot of practice.

Perhaps using yo-yos like the following photo  of the star might be a whimsical alternative hiding a lot of hand-stitching goofs? But then I would not really be getting the appliqué practice, now would I? Aah... yet to be decided. Whirligiggles must marinate a bit more on my design wall.

Keeping in mind future projects at home, I have a blue and white quilt kit pending that uses a Dresden plate technique. I was attracted to the use of two fabrics in the blades that make of the petals of the flower on this pillow. The radial alignment of the wavy purple fabric for this project was just pure genius!

This quilt was a clever idea for those jelly rolls I have. I like how the linear pattern is broken up by a few square in squares strategically placed. In retrospect I should have looked if those squares are pieced in or appliquéd on (there is that A-word again).

This cool use of ties as a hula skirt on this dress form brought a smile to my face. My husband has a lot of ties and I have a lot of buttons, but I do not have a wire scroll work dress form - though I have admired them and refrained from an impulse purchase of one. Maybe I should reconsider...? Sure looks like a fun decorator item!

I had to capture this one more final image that can only be done justice with a closeup. That square is not printed fabric. It is precisely hand embroidered. How tidy! How crisp! How admirable!

The show was an enjoyable outing and a source of inspiration. I am off to share my photos and purloined ideas with the folks at Let's Bee Social #167.

Update March 10th: I conveniently "forgot" to mention my purchases from show vendors. One of my 2017 quilting goals was "Buy tools or threads instead of fabric".  I bought a zig-zig foot for my featherweight. It should be handy. I must also admit that I did buy one piece of fabric at the show - but just one. I could not resist buying two yards of Grand Canal by Kate Spain. I love Kate Spain's designs and those colors were just too scrumptious to resist. I noticed it and passed it by once, but when we were leaving and my husband pointed it out to me and said "Isn't that striking?" I caved. Sigh.