Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Quilting Companion

Well, here he is, Champagne P. Freebery. He is about 12 years old. We rescued him from the SPCA when he was just a kitten. True to his breed, as an adult he grew to be a bit cantankerous. He also developed some pretty quirky behavior through the years. He has crossed blue eyes, and somewhat oddly, he loves to ride in my husband’s car. My husband leaves the window open in his car in the driveway so that Champagne can lounge in the back window. When the car trip is something that will not require Champagne to sit in the car unattended, he gets to ride along. I know, totally bizarre.

While in the house, Champagne lounges one of two places. One is in my husband’s open briefcase. The other is behind my sewing machine. He only lounges there when I am sewing – I think he can feel the love. I have started leaving a water dish back there for him, because he was always trying to drink my water when I left it sitting there. If, while I am sewing, he feels that what I am sewing has over stepped its bounds, Champagne has no problem with lashing out at it. Not a friendly little swat, mind you. But an all out assault. Yep, that’s our kitty….. Oh, and the P. in his name stands for Painy. For obvious reasons.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Scrappy Batik Quilts - all finished!

I have to admit that this scrappy quilt is one of my favorites - my daughter's Batik New York Beauty. It was my first foray into foundation piecing. I found that that isn’t my favorite method of piecing, but I sure love the way the quilt turned out, so I am pleased that I persevered. It was a gift for my daughter and she loved it, too. I used up a ton of scraps with that quilt, and it was very easy to piece (well, except of those foundation pieced New York Beauty points). I used the Foundation By The Yard fabric and then built the rest of the quilt around the center. I believe I had seen a similar quilt on the cover of Keepsake Quilting and modeled it after that one.

Another of my top three batik scrap quilts would have to be the Hibiscus Quilt. I made this for my wonderful niece, Katelyn. If you look closely, you will see my right index finger holding up the corner of the quilt. This quilt was made using Karen Stone’s Hibiscus quilt pattern. I wasn’t in a photogenic mood, so I did the only sane thing, and that was to duck!

Another of my top three scrappy batik quilts is the one I call my Key West Quilt. I used the Friendship Star pattern from The Quiltmaker’s Gift to make this one. It also used up a heap of batik scraps. I had purchased a great deal of batiks to make quilted tote bags for my store in New York and got tired of making the bags before I ran out of batik material. Funny how that happens, but look at the beautiful quilts this stash created! Serendipity, if you ask me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

“Tell us about your favorite Quilt Shop...”

I lived in western New York, in a very rural area, all my life. Nearly four years ago my husband and I very happily moved from there to sunny Clearwater, Florida. There was a great little shop in Fredonia, New York, called Mauzy’s that sold vacuums, sewing machines, quilting supplies and fabric. I got my beloved Janome from there, as well as a vacuum or two through the years. The owner of the shop was a magnificent quilter and sewer and also a brilliant teacher. Sadly, since I moved, that store has closed. One of the things I remember most about going to Mauzy’s was that never, ever, did I walk through the door that I wasn’t greeted with a warm "hello". It was like walking into your best friend’s kitchen. Always a warm welcome.

When I arrived in Clearwater, the search began for a replacement. I found this big, shinny quilt shop and thought I had found it. In fact, one day I walked in the door and nearly rubbed shoulders with Kaffe Fassett as he was walking out (he had just given a class there). I nearly gasped. I thought I had stumbled into the Bloomingdales of quilt shops! I decided I needed to introduce myself and start to create that wonderful relationship I was missing. I tried to chat a bit with the ladies that worked there, on several occasions, to explain that I had just moved to the area, etc., and honestly, they were simply not interested. You were never greeted when you arrived. Nothing. I was so sad. I was sure that my days of going to the quilt shop and feeling all warm and fuzzy were over.

Until one day my uncle came by and told me about this cute little shop called “Country Quilts and Bears”. Right here in the middle of Clearwater sits a log cabin and it’s a quilt shop! I couldn’t wait until Saturday! It finally came, and I shot right over there. I opened the door to enter the shop, and the first thing I heard was a cheery “hello”. The couple, John and Marilyn, that own the shop are so friendly, as are their employees. From the first time I walked through the door I knew I had found my new quilting home. Marilyn is an unbelievable buyer – the selection is so well rounded and I have NEVER not been able to find what I need there. I love chatting with everyone at the shop – seeing what they are sewing and talking about what I am sewing. They even listen politely when I drone on and on about my Granddaughter! Most importantly, every time I walk through the door, I feel like I just entered my friend’s kitchen. To me, that is the essence of a good quilt shop.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Blog Monster

So my friend says to me, “Susan, you don’t seem to be sewing much these days. What’s up? You haven’t brought in any new show and tell items?” I felt like I had been caught with my hand in the cookie jar. See, I started writing this blog exactly one month ago today, and I can not believe how it has grabbed a hold of me! In the incredibly intelligent words of my newly met blog sister from Wisconsin, “ …but the Blog Monster sucked me in….” I have become a blog stalker, constantly looking to see what everyone else is sewing, instead of actually sewing myself! Is this something that will pass, or am I doomed? Is my granddaughter destined to cover at night with store bought blankets? Oh, my gosh, how do I get this monkey off my back? Is there a 12 Stitch program I can enroll in? What’s to become of my beloved Janome if left unused for more than 24 hours? Will she seize up like an old, oil-less engine? Oh, the dreadfulness of it all. Oh, the shame. Today, I am going to get this under control. I am going to reclaim my sewing time and start producing again. I am just going to post this one post, and then I am definitely, definitely, going to sew the backing for my Scrappy Christmas HoHoHo quilt. Today I WILL do that backing, right after I wander over to see if Bonnie is back from vacation.....

Friday, April 13, 2007

Baby Doll Diaper Bag

Well, I certainly seem to be on a "baby track" these days. My niece has her third birthday coming up, and she has been in crisis due to a substandard Baby Doll Diaper Bag. So, like a good Auntie, I have come to her rescue (Shhhhh, don't tell her, it is a surprise!). Her Mommy tells me that Lily had been using an old diaper bag for use with her baby dolls. She had met many challenges with the rather large hand-me-down. First, it didn't come with a changing pad (the horror!), and so she was forced to fold up paper towels to keep in the bag for a changing pad. She also was having trouble because the Velcro on the handle lost it's "stick"... so, to make a very sad story happier, Auntie Susan stepped up and made her a diaper bag that actually fits her little body AND it has a changing pad. I intend to run to Target tomorrow and pick up some baby items to go in it - those little toy baby bottles, baby doll diapers, and what ever else I might find that a baby doll might need (?) or could use.

While I was sewing this bag, I wondered how I sewed items before I started quilting. I have only been quilting for about ten years but I have been sewing since I was a child. I had never layered fabric and quilted it together, yet now everything that I sew seems to need quilting. I guess that when a new idea pops into my mind, or a new need arises, because of my love of quilting, I always manage to move it into the quilting world. Funny how that happened. I guess then that this period in my life could be categorized as my "quilting period". I doubt it will ever end and I am glad of it.

Oh, and if any of you have a Hancock Fabrics near your house, I would stop in if they are going out of business like ours is. I got the fabric in the photo for an amazing price. It was actually pretty good quality and for less than $2.00 a yard, I couldn't go wrong! I know, we are supposed to be "busting the stash", but I didn't have anything cute enough for the all important Baby Doll Diaper Bag for Lily......

Friday, April 6, 2007

Scrappy Gift Bags

I have been sooooo busy preparing for my Grand Baby's first birthday party that I just have not had time to get a new post up. I had this wonderful brainstorm while sitting with my daughter and discussing the particulars of the upcoming event. My daughter and her husband had decided on a Monkey theme - my son-in-law loves monkeys. Now, probably because this is my first Grandchild, and also the fact that I am a quilt-aholic and occasionally an overachiever, the wheels started turning in my head concerning the coordinated Monkey Birthday Party accoutrements. I have found it so easy as of late to quilt and appliqué many child oriented objects, that instantly the idea flew into my brain to appliqué a simple monkey face onto gift bags for the birthday party attendees. How hard could that be, right? Certainly I have plenty of brown scraps to use for the appliqués, right? A little bit of searching and I found a bunch of pink felt, which I decided would be great for the body of the bags, and shoot, I wouldn’t be considered lazy if I chose not to quilt the 20 bags I needed, right? I would just appliqué the monkey faces onto 20 felt rectangles using my embroidery sewing machine, throw on the handles, sew up the sides and then miter the corners to make it a flat bottom bag so it could stand, and in no time at all, and at no cost whatsoever, we would have wonderful hand crafted coordinated gift bags for the birthday party. Exquisite!

However, I must say that there was one thing I forgot as the gift bag idea was born. I forgot that I really don’t like making the same thing over and over. I thoroughly enjoy creating a new pattern, gathering the new pieces, assembling it, working out the bumps, and then naturally – completion! Having to make twenty, yes, 20 gift bags has been a lesson in perseverance for me. Imagine, cutting 20 monkey heads, twenty monkey muzzles, hooping felt 20 times, cutting forty handles, then sewing each and every element …… I set daily limits on what I HAD to accomplish each day, or I could not have that second cup of coffee – and I made myself stick to these goals. That was the only way I could muddle through the boredom and monotony of producing something over and over, 20 times. I was surprised at myself because when you quilt, you are repeating the same process to make the blocks, over and over, but I realized that that repetition is not grueling to me because it is the journey to complete the one object – the quilt. If I had to create even 2 identical quilts, I would be hard pressed to make myself begin the second, but would have raced through the first as I always do, to get to that prize – the completed quilt. I guess I just like to create once – and when that one creation is complete, it is time to move on to the next project and begin a new journey.

All in all, the bags turned out wonderfully and I am so pleased that I made them. When lined up at the party the bags will look wonderful and I won’t tell a soul that I had to make myself top-stitch ten handles a day for four days in order to get them done in time…..