Sunday, September 22, 2013

Road trips and buying fabric on-line.

I love shopping for fabric on line. I know that this does not make sense to some, who like to touch (or pet as one friend calls it) their fabric. I understand the concern about quality when you  shop on line. I have discovered that once you know your manufacturers you can be assured that quality standards are maintained. If I am shopping and see something  by an unfamiliar manufacture I might purchase smaller quantities, say 1/2 yard, and test it to see how I like it. That being said, I am always up for a road trip to a fabric store.

After months and months of my co-worker, Linda Sansone, telling me you have to go to Fabric Shack, I agreed. Fabric Shack is located in historic Waynesville, Ohio. I am familiar with them because they also have an on-line store. Still I must admit fabric stores are delightful places to visit. Fabric Shack is a wonderland of fabric and other quilting supplies. They have a great selection and wonderful people. There are fabrics floor to ceiling, and books, books, books, (my weakness). I had only intended to purchase some complimentary fabric for a quilt I want to start. I was a yard short and did find something that worked well.  Did I stop there? Of course not! I lost control in the Christmas Fabric section. I purchased a sweet little snowman fabric, a few complimentary fabrics, and this pattern.
Square Dance Quilt - that's mine!
The inspiration

 I am making a Christmas quilt using the pattern Square Dance by Gigi's Thimble. I plan to use the snow men for the 5" squares. I have a off white Moda Grunge to frame the squares. As you can see, the center blocks are framed by smaller blocks (sort of like a square dance). So I have some green grunge and a print from the Aspen Spirit to go along. I may add a border or make the quilt 3 sections wide. I am not sure. I only know I want it larger, so I will change it in some way. I'm sure I have more fabric in my stash if I decide to make the pattern larger....and of course I can order on-line.
Aspen Spirit by Moda

Speaking of on-line shopping. Here are the highlights of my favorite places to order fabric on line.

Fabric Shack:
Since I just returned from there today,  I will start with  Fabric Shack. There are lots of things to like about this site. One thing is they seem to have the entire collection of a fabric. For example this summer I did Tula Pink's quilt Tranquil Waters. This was the only site that had the entire collection. I was able to order everything I needed at one time. It seemed to be the same for the Aspen Spirit line. And if it's Moda, I bet they have it. There is a quick turn around and their shipping is very reasonable. Finally they have something called a sell-abration on their site. This is name brand fabric at under $5 a yard. This week I discovered I needed two more yards of fabric (there is a pattern developing here) for a project. I checked all my usual sites and it was half off here. This sale is only for on-line purchases.

I admit I am hooked to this site. It has the best selection I've seen. There are many fun features to help you design that special project, or build your stash. There is a "find this color" feature, related fabrics tabs and patterns where you can paste selections from your wish list in the pattern to try out different looks. There is a design page to display your wish list or chart so you may check out how your selections work together. They have a clearance tab, and sometimes will have 40% off on blenders or other categories of fabric. At times they have free shipping offers. I also like the description for each fabric selection. It is very detailed and tells you the names of the colors used in each selection. This helps when trying to create your own collection.

The fabrics are full price, which may seem pricey at times. But, everything I purchased from this site has been excellent in quality. They have fabric I have not found on other sites. Lastly a portion of all sales goes to charity and you can designated which of the groups to support with your purchase.
The last site I frequently used is What attracted me to this initially was that any shipping is free on orders over $35.00. They have a huge selection and their prices are reasonable. The clearance tabs are a great way to build a stash. They have good quality fabric.

Since I don't know what I am doing, I can't figure out how to insert the links for these sites.. Sometimes I do it right, sometimes I don't. Today is not my day I guess.These are easy to locate on-line so I am sure there will be no problems giving them a once over if you are so inclined.

Well my shopping is done. I am waiting for a few orders to arrive and will begin a baby quilt for a co-worker. The next month for Craftsy BOM is around the corner. And rumor has it Bonnie Hunter will post the fabric requirements for her next Mystery Quilt in October. Oh, happy, happy, happy days.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Spooling, and gardening, on a Sunday afternoon.

Another week has come and gone, and this is an absolutely fabulous day: The weather is perfect, with low humidity. The wind chimes are playing a tune. I think it's called come to the garden, come to the garden. As much as I love to piece it would not be right to stay  indoors on such a wonderful day. So we didn't.

Jana helped me re-potted some Hosta, we picked up sticks, blew away the leaves and watered, watered, watered.  Oh yeah, I nearly forgot. We roasted marshmallows on the fire pit and made smores, and drank peach tea..

My woodland garden. Did I mention I like Hosta?

I have  sentimental themes in many of my garden beds, just as I do in my quilts. One of my beds is a memorial garden bed. There is a Hosta named Memories of Dorothy and another named Barbara Ann, for my mom and my sister. There a Hosta called Blue Angel, Earth Angel, Remember Me, Mourning could go on forever. And, I kid you not, there is a Hosta in my garden called Quilting Bee. The Hostapedia also shows Quilted Cup, Quilted Hearts, Quilted Mound, Quilted Skies and Quilting Party. This could be trouble. I may need a new bed just for the Quilting Hosta.

The Memorial Garden bed.

Some of the plants have taken a beating with the late summer heat and lack of water. Not to mention it is fall and shorter days do signal the plants it's time for a rest.

This one can't stand the heat and dryness.
Even though we spent the day in the garden we didn't forget about quilting or piecing. We pieced and assembled blocks on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. This week we decided to put some time in on the spools. Since we started making these cute little spools we have accumulated about 230.

Spools everywhere.

 We decide if we put them together in four piece blocks it would be easier to see what we had.  Bonnie Hunter suggested  having diversity of color in each block. We tried to do that, but  have this thing about complimentary colors. So sometimes we just picked things at random and other times we planned our block.

Playing around with our spools

Initially I planned to just square up the four piece blocks and stack them for assembly at a later date. You know how plans go. When I laid them out I got a little excited and then started to sew four, four piece blocks together. So now we have 12 inch blocks

Six 12 inch blocks.
I love the look of these blocks. My plan is to make one quilt that is nothing but spools. When I saw the blocks I thought they would look neat with dark sashes. I still think I will stick with the original plan. We have many more spools to put together in blocks and many more spools to make. This quilt could take a year or more to make.

I admit that long projects where never my cup of tea. But I am enjoying these little spools and the memories associated with all these scraps.

Thanks for checking in.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bear Crosses the mountain with the setting sun.

Hurrah, the piecing is finished. Thanks to those who offered comments. The sunset fabric is the winner.
Jana previewed the fabric. She discarded the white as a first border because it just seemed too bland. We found a pale blue in the stash and agreed it would be a perfect transition piece.

The sunset fabric provide a vivid frame and rather than distract from the mountains in the center seems to set things off. The second border is where she used the sunset. The book only had one six inch border, so Jana decided to make the sunset boarder 6 inches. The entire piece was then framed with a purple border.

The pattern is really a wall hanging, so adding the additional borders added enough width and length to make a small throw. Since her mom lives in South Carolina, they don't exactly need quilts for warmth. I think will be the perfect size for the back of a chair or sofa..

The applique is fused, raw edge applique. I used a blanket stitch to attach the bear. Up close it will not win any prize. I am hoping when it is quilted there will be more dimension. The paws are too small for us to machine applique, so I think I will do a blanket stitch by hand. The back will be the same purple fabric as the border.

I plan to quilt this myself. That could change, depending on if I get overwhelmed, frustrated or both. It's nice to always have a back up plan. 

In case you didn't see this in the previous post, here is the picture Nicole sent of the sun setting over the mountains in South Carolina. This picture also influence the selection of the sunset fabric. All that is left is the quilting and binding. I have a feeling that will take longer than it did to make the quilt.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mountain crossing-which way to go?

With the Craftsy BOM set aside until October it's time to get back to work on the quilt Jana and I are making for her mom. A few posts back we introduced Mountain Crossing.

Our inspiration.

We have the mountains done. Jana sat out this portion. It was not as easy as I expected. The block was not complicated. It just took concentration, and sometimes we are more about distraction. We like to talk and sing as we sew. Regardless the center is complete. It is close enough to the picture to make us happy.

Not the best picture, but you get the idea.
As you can see, the quilt in the book has a white border. The bear is fused on, and I still am uncertain what to do about that. Does one blanket stitch around the edges?  And what about those paw prints?

Bright enough?

Ever the colorful one Jana wants to use this fabric in the quilt. I initially said I think it's too dramatic and will distract from the mountains. However....

Interesting options

So here is our process dilemma.
1. Follow the pattern and only use a 6" white border.
2. Use a white border-perhaps thinner than 6", maybe 2",  and then add a wide border of the sunset fabric.
3. Forget the white and just go with a wide sunset.

Anyone want to add their opinion? We promise to consider all. The borders are Jana's territory and she will make the final decision. If needed I'll give technical support. As far as the applique' we are both newbies, so I guess we will figure that one out together.

Thanks for checking in.

Nicole sent this picture which was taken in the mountains of South Carolina. Looks like the sunset fabric is going to be a winner.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Craftsy BOM-September-Darlene learns to hand applique-Jana doesn't.

Craftsy BOM 2013- September

Our initial excitement about the applique' baskets with flowers was dampened last month when he had our first experience with applique'. Our handles didn't turn out so well so we where a little anxious about appliqueing  all those leaves and petals. Fortunately our fears where not realized. Although we didn't follow the directions exactly, we did accomplish the task.

I was intimated by the hand-applique' but I determined to learn how to do it. I went to my local quilt store and purchase the book  Hand-Appliqued Quilts by Tonye Belinda Phillips. It is a good introduction to applique and gave me ideas on some simple designs and techniques. These techniques, combined with those in the September lesson enabled me to accomplish the task.

I used this as inspiration for my flowers.

While I thought this would be easier than the pattern for the block I probably deluded myself. Once I started to applique' I discovered I really do like it and ended up adding more to my block than I had planned. Also when I saw how full Jana's basket looked I added a few more flowers and a little embroidery. We also might add some yo-yos once the quilt has been quilted.

My first attempt at hand applique'

Jana on the other hand

I still don't want to do hand applique'
I can balance a ruler on my head, but I can't hand sew!

What did she do? She used the fusible, heat-n-bond, and ironed her leaves, petals and circles onto the quilt. She experimented with different setting on her sewing machine for the applique. I must say that some of these are not traditionally used for applique', but what the heck...we are just having fun...right?

No surprise that Jana picked a colorful Christmas green for her leaves. The flowers where a soft pink, which really worked against the brighter tones of her basket. The thread she used to applique' was the same as the pink fabric, so any imperfections are difficult to see. I must say that she did a rather good job, especially for her first try.

Jana's basket and flowers-machine appliqued
 One fun lesson from this block was how to cover up mistakes. Her handled had some pleats in it, we experimented and decided to add little pink circles that look like beads.  This covered up our problem area and looks kind of cute too.

cover ups.
Another fun lesson is that it's easier to turn your fabric when you are wearing gloves. This surprised Jana. Will I be able to get those gloves back? I think she has claimed them for herself.
Jana's first machine applique' flower.

It's easier to move your block around with gloves.

We here we are again, we finished another month and feel like we can tackle about anything. We are familiar with the techniques for the rest of the quilt so there are no worries about being able to finish.

old school versus new school

We like them both. We each did our thing and we each learned something new.

Traditional fabrics and technique
Modern fabric and technique

Speaking of modern-a modern photo shot from an unusual perspective.

A peak at the layout so far.
Jana says everyone has to wait for her big reveal!. She'll post it when it complete!

Thanks for checking in. Have fun this week, and quilt together.