Modern Sunbonnet Sue's Musings

Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue:

August 2011 - Posts

Summer is ending, time to pull out a project to hand quilt

Summer is always wonderful. The weather encourages us all outdoors. Gardening, swimming, camping, sailing, hiking, whatever your "ing" is, we all do a lot of it in the summer. The end of August brings football, school bells, fall leaves and pumpkins. We spend time outside, but start putting on those sweatshirts and jeans.

In the summer, I usually work on projects that travel easily and don't sit on my lap and make me warm. Fall and Winter are the season for holding onto a warm quilt to hand quilt or attach the binding. I tend to stay inside more the colder it gets outside. If you live in a warmer state, you may not understand what I'm talking about. But, the Midwest has it's seasons. Fall is the season for pulling out a hand quilting project and working on completing a quilt by next Spring.

I have just the project I plan to finish. I attended Gwen Marston's BIQR - Beaver Island Quilt Retreat - in 2009. Of course, the retreat is no longer held on the island and it's difficult to get a spot. Previous attenders have first crack at the spots and no one usually gives up their place. I was fortunate enough to have a friend whose daughter couldn't attend that year, so I was able to take her place. Gwen has a theme each year for her retreats. That year was solid fabrics - bright & bold like Amish quilts. She provides a trunk show of the quilts in her newest book and teaches techniques throughout the week. Her retreat is all about designing. And, I had a grand time thinking outside the box and designing a quilt. I incorporated several of her techinques into the quilt. My favorite was a serpentine border using a bias strip that is so easy to make. I have used this technique several times since then to make vines and bias for stained glass. Check out Gwen Marston's website to find out about her retreats and books that teach her freestyle techniques. She is definitely one of my favorite quilt teachers.

I made the entire quilt from Kona solids. The backing is black and I am quilting with black thread. Because the kona cottons are a tighter weave, the quilting is more difficult. I was initially discouraged, but plan to just plug away at finishing the hand quilting. The project is small enough to take with me, so I should be able to work on it regularly. I'll have to take pictures and post in the future.

If you're heading up to one of Gwen's retreats in September, have a great time!

Posted Wed, Aug 31 2011 8:31 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Monday's Musings #4

What are the best things to do on Mondays? After a 4-day week-end, I certainly didn't want to go back to work. But, work was not difficult today. We had a division meeting at a local park with a potluck and games. Just a day to socialize with the work gang. It was lots of fun. Although, I need to remember my age. Playing kickball is a child's game and trying to beat out the ball to first base is grounds for a pulled hamstring and gluteal muscle. It was a bonus to get home earlier than usual.

The house was quieter than usual, as well, when I got home. Our granddaughter is no longer coming over for a couple of hours until her daddy comes home from work and while her mommy goes to works. Daddy is out of the State helping with hurricane cleanup, so mommy is no longer working. Sure miss seeing her and I just spent two days with her on the week-end with the yard sale.

Binding is attached to the Blotto Block quilt. It is a green color and sets off the pink sashing on the quilt, along with the other green colors that are throughout the quilt. I was able to ease in the binding, so that the edges of the quilt aren't wavy. A couple of hours each night this week and the binding should be done. My goal of completing quilts, instead of starting new ones, is moving along. However, I did start the quilt for the guild Applique Club. So, I gues these two quilts cancel each other out.

Our guild has a new website with more features and a Facebook page. We have a new quilter in the guild that took over the Newsletter/Website and has already advanced us into the age of the social network. Now members can socialize online between meetings and the guild can be advanced through a new media. Our 2011 quilt show is coming October 8th & 9th - Michigan in Stitches. If you are from the central Michigan area, check out our Mid-Michigan Quilters' Guild. We'd love to have you join us or see our quilt show.

Well, Monday is winding down. I plan to do some hand stitching before heading off to bed.

May you sleep peacefully under a quilt somewhere tonight.

Posted Mon, Aug 29 2011 7:05 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Sue's Current Sunday Challenge

Sundays seem to be the best day for me to work on quilt projects. The house is quiet and there aren't any distractions. I usually do a little housework to ease my conscience about the usual mess. But, what quilter doesn't have a room that needs vaccumed, dishes in the sink, or dirty clothes on the laundry room floor. The housework can wait while I work on something quilty.

Today's challenge will be to make and attach a binding for a blotto quilt I put together last Spring and had quilted in June. It's been waiting patiently while I completed other projects more pressing. I also hope to make a block I designed for a block challenge. I worked on the block a couple of weeks ago, but need to remake the block now that I've worked out exactly how I want it to look.

I am also working on blocks for a new Applique Club that I will be chairing for our local guild. The blocks are all hand appliqued hearts using different techniques. The first two blocks were made using special stitches - a buttonhole applique and a decorative running stitch. Currently, I am stitching a block using a stained glass effect. Bias strips are attached with a blind stitch. There are nine block altogether and I plan to make two quilts. I will stitch a set of completed blocks and a set of blocks in progress to use as demos at the monthly club meeting.

 Block #1 - Buttonhole Stitch Hearts

Block #2 - Decorative Running Stitch Hearts

The pattern is called Heart Sampler and is found in the book Applique! Applique! Applique! The Complete Guide to Hand Applique, by Laurene Sinema, The Quilt Digest Press, 1992.


Posted Sun, Aug 28 2011 1:19 PM by Pamela | 1 comment(s)

Hometown Fest

Our local community is having it's Hometown Fest this week-end. It features a bed race, ice cream social at the local historical society, and a fireman's waterball contest. We always eat at the Chicken BBQ and walk around looking at the craft booths. A local ochestra plays music on the court house lawn and the kids have games and inflatables to play inside. The Farmer's Market is set up with lots of homegrown fruits and vegetables. Cotton candy and kettlecorn booths provide treats. Community-wide yard and garage sales abound. And, the Presbyterian Church has a quilt show.

If you live in a small town, you know the kind of festival I'm talking about. I remember doing this type of festival when I was young. The local historical society was a dime store called Hanner's and they sponsored children's games and had a giveaway. My sister won the pink, banana seat bicycle and got her picture in the newspaper. The best part about this type of festival is that it encourages a return to your hometown. I see lots of old friends and family, as well as, local community members. And, it brings out local crafters with their wares. Some of the booths are the same individuals that come back year after year.

The quilt show displayed many lovely example of old and modern day quilts. Two favories were a Grandmother's Flower Garden and a batik applique of baskets, flowers, and birds. I believe the pattern was called The Brown Bird. It was made entirely from batiks with fine applique stitches and embroidery. The flower garden quilt was completely hand stitched and hand quilted. The hexagons were quite small - maybe 1" across - and the background was pink rather than the usual white or cream. I was able to view many examples of quilts, although only forty quilts were displayed. The quilters were old and young. This type of community quilt show provides opportunities for a look at quilts that might not usually be seen. National quilt shows and local guild shows display member quilts. Members prefer to place their recent creations on display, so that older quilts and quilts by those that own, but do not make, quilts are not usually seen. Community quilt shows are nostalgic. They provide an historical look at quilting within the community.

Check out your community quilt shows and enjoy!

Posted Sat, Aug 27 2011 3:19 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Mother-of-Pearl Buttons and Daughters

Yard Saling was a big hit today. There were three sales in our block alone, which kept the cars stopping and bargain seekers walking around to all three sales.

You have to take care when having a yard sale with someone that has received a gift from your stitching. As quilters, we have ideas about the value of the items we craft. We expect that those who receive our gifts will value them as much as we do. However, take care that you do not expect that family understands or places the same value on our sewing creations.

Case in point, I was putting out some of my daughter's items for the yard sale today, when I came across three items that I had stitched and given as gifts to her. One looked as though it had never been used, which she confirmed. She stated that she just had too many items around the house and needed to clean things up. I immediately wanted to confiscate the items, but thought better of myself and left them in the yard sale. They were given to my daughter, so I do not have a right to reclaim them; otherwise they would cease to be a gift. A little later, I came across a couple more items that I had sewn up for my granddaughter. All the items were some type of small purse/bag that I had received a pattern for in a "Groovy Girls Club" that my sister and I had participated in at the local quilt shop. Of course, everyone tries out the patterns and has several items that end up being gifted. My recourse, I put a hefty price, for yard sales, on each of the items. I took into consideration the cost of the fabric - often $9.00 per yard - and zippers. I could not have her part with them for less than the cost of a fat quarter. Subsequently, none of the items sold.

I did end up confiscating one of the items that I could not consciously allow being sold. I had made a bag from reproduction Civil War fabric that required buttons. I used four antique, mother-of-pearl buttons I had purchased at a local antique shop. I recall telling my daughter about the buttons when I gave the bag to her. However, that value system just doesn't connect if you are not a seamstress/quilter. Although I probably shouldn't, I am highly considering using my own yard sale profits to purchase back all the items. Then, my daughter will receive a fair price for the items and my hurt ego will be eased.

The Moral of the Story - Make sure that you are willing to part with your sewing creations to less appreciative family and friends, because they may end up in a yard sale. And, plan ahead for your fabric stash and sewing machines in your will or trust. They may end up in a yard sale, as well.

Posted Thu, Aug 25 2011 8:50 PM by Pamela | 2 comment(s)

Yard Sale

My daughter & I are having a yard sale on Thursday & Friday. Not a sale that has to do with fabric, although I could use my proceeds to buy some yards at a sale. No, the usual kind of yard sale where you get rid of things you don't want anymore. The one that goes with the phrase, "One man's trash is another man's treasure".

As I've gone through closets and cupboards, I have come across items that I haven't seen in awhile. But, I cannot seem to part with some items. I found some draperies that I tried to sell in a previous yard sale, but was thinking that I could cut up the fabric and use it to recover the cushion on my porch swing. It certainly would be cheaper than buying canvas fabric at JoAnn's, even with a yard sale - pun intended. I also have a closet full of crafty stuff - fabric scraps, baskets, patterns, fiberfil stuffing, T-shirts to make quilts, old blue jeans to make other quilts, paints, china doll heads, neck ties for another quilt..... I really need to rid myself of those things that I no longer do or will never make. Never is such an absolute. Maybe I will make those quilts or that craft project, I say. Wouldn't it be fun to resurrect an old craft project and complete it for my grandchild. I cannot part with those pieces of fabric for a yard sale price. They're worth more to me than that.

It appears that I may never get rid of any of this "stuff". So, I will continue to have boxes of old quilt magazines, vintage fabric scraps from clothing I made as a teenager, and boxes of old neck ties and blue jeans that may someday be made into a quilt.

Posted Wed, Aug 24 2011 9:08 PM by Pamela | 1 comment(s)

Local Quilt Teachers

Yesterday, as I blogged about another quilt I had made, it occurred to me that it was the third time that I had mentioned a local Michigan quilter. Ami Simms is a nationally known quilter from Flint, Michigan. I guess, that has made it opportunistic for me to take a class from her and listen to her speak on more than one occasion. I belong to the Mid-Michigan Quilters' Guild and we often choose Michigan quilt teachers to lecture for our meetings. The costs are usually less, but it also promotes the Michigan community. Kind of like being a locavore and buying produce and other foods locally to stimulate the economy close to home.

Other nationally know Michigan quilters that have spoken at local guild meetings include Gwen Marston, Kaye Wood, Lenore Crawford, Delphine Miller, Beth Ferrier, Frieda Anderson, and Kay Nickols. Coming in September, Edyta Sitar will speak and teach a class for our guild. I am looking forward to this lecture.

Who teaches locally where you live? Take advantage of the opportunities to learn from others that have made quilting their profession. They have a lot to offer.

Posted Tue, Aug 23 2011 6:48 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Monday's Musings #3

I came home today and noticed the sparrows fighting over the bird feeder in the backyard. I hadn't filled the feeder for a least a month and decided to yesterday. There were more than a dozen birds fighting over a space on the perch. Watching them, you begin to understand the phrase "pecking order". Some of the birds literally pecked at another, while the other flapped it's wings, trying to maintain their position on the feeder. Others remained on the deck railing or rooftop, observing the display, not once attempting to land on the feeder. A couple of ingenious sparrows, picked up the seed that was scattered onto the ground or deck. One would have thought that  the birds hadn't eaten since the last time I put out birdseed.

The mailperson delivered my 2011 Show Special edition of the Quilting Quarterly today, NQA's member magazine. I so enjoyed the NQA quilt show this year and cannot wait to browse through the pages to see all those gorgeous quilts, again.

In a previous Picture Play blog, I talked about one of my guild's education projects, that I recently completed. Our project for last year was along the same vein, with I Spy/Picture Play quilts donated to local libraries to use in their children's sections. I chose to make the pattern "Stepping Stones" from Picture Play Quilts by Ami Simms, Mallery Press, LLC, 2000. I have a collection of novelty prints, as well as, some prints from an exchange with a fellow quilter. The quilt used two sizes of fussy-cut pictures in the design. Words representing the pictures were printed onto muslin and pieced into the outside border. The quilt hangs at the Alma Public Library, which has been a supporter of the art of quilting for many years. My local group, the Kiltie Quilters, meets there twice a month to socialize, exchange ideas and tie off quilts we donate to local families that have house fires. I enjoy seeing the quilt hanging in a seating area of the library. I made sure that the Librarian knew that the quilt was to be used and that children could play a word/picture identification game with it. 

Stepping Stones quilt for 2010 MMQG Library Education Project - hangs at Alma Public Library, Alma, MI.

Close-up of a corner of the quilt.

I made one other quilt from the book, but do not seem to have a picture of it. I gave it to my first grandchild, who was born 2-1/2 years ago. I may need to begin a second one soon, since I am expecting my second grandchild in March 2012. It is such fun to find fabric to make these quilts. I certainly have enough in my stash to make another one. Unfortnuately, I cannot find a photo of that quilt. I will have to pull it out of my granddaughter's room and get a snapshot to post.



Posted Mon, Aug 22 2011 6:27 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Sorting for Silent Auction Baskets

This afternoon, I plan to sort through a large amount of boxes with items donated for our guild's Silent Auction Baskets. I've only glanced inside a couple of the first boxes I received, so it will be a look into a treasure chest as I sort out items and determine how to arrange everything into the baskets. Fabric, patterns, UFO's, sewing supplies - are what I am expecting to find. I have several boxes to organize the items into categories. Previous basket makers have indicated category ideas, such as holiday, folk art, children. This should give me a good start. I'm looking forward to what treasures I might find.

Posted Sun, Aug 21 2011 1:22 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Redwork Patterns

I have always been drawn to the Redwork medium. Red being my favorite color, makes it especially inviting. I can recall looking through patterns in Workbasket as a young person. My Grandma Smith subscribed to the magazine and kept all the copies. I guess that could be where I get my compulsion to keep everything quilting. Redwork patterns abound. There are countless books on the subject and many patterns available on the internet.

When completing redwork patterns, there are so many shades of red to chose, but I prefer to use DMC #498, referreed to as turkey red. Nowadays, patterns are worked in blue, black or any number of colors. What many may not realize is that red was well liked because it was a rich dye that didn't fade or bleed, unlike today's synthetic dyes. Turkey red is mistakenly thought to be a specific color, however, the terminology refers to the process used to produce the red colors used in fabrics. Read about the history of red dyes. Likely, the name was applied because of it's origin from the middle east. Dyeing was a common practice in American homes prior to the 1860's, as Ruth Finley relates in the chapter Colors, Dyes and Dyeing from her oft referred to book, Old Patchwork Quilts and The Women Who Made Them, first published by Philadelphia & London J.B. Lippincott Company in 1929. Synthetic dyes produced by manufacturing companies are common use in fabrics today due to their lower costs and ease of use.

I have always wanted to learn the art of fabric dyeing. I especially would like to produce my own batik fabrics. Caryl Bryer Fallert has mastered the art of dyeing and produces gorgeous quilts from her owned hand-dyed fabrics. I would love to visit her studio in Paducah, KY, when I am able to make it to the AQS show held there annually. This is one of the items on my "to do" list when I have the time and money to invest in the process.

I modified the pattern from the cover quilt on McCall's Quilting April 2007 by Carol Armstrong to use redwork designs instead of applique flowers. I used a collection of 3" charms from a guild exchange to make the hand appliqued squares. I hand quilted in between the squares, along with a vine and leaves in the border. I entered the quilt in the 2009 Michigan Quilt Network show and received an Honorable Mention ribbon. I titled the quilt, My Charming Flower Garden.

This is one of my favorite quilts. It incorporates the aspects of quilting that I enjoy doing the most: hand applique, redwork embroidery, and hand quilting.


Posted Fri, Aug 19 2011 10:00 PM by Pamela | with no comments

I Spy or Picture Play type quilt

The education project is slated for completion. Another half hour of tack stitches and the binding will be totally attached. The label is ready to go and should only take another 20 minutes.

Some of you are asking, "what's an education project?" I belong to the Mid-Michigan Quilters' Guild and we complete a raffle quilt whenever we hold a quilt show. This Fall will be our third show in five years. In order to maintain our non-profit status, our raffle license stipulates that the proceeds from the raffle will be used to provide educational opportunities to the community, which also fits into our guild's mission. A committee works to determine viable projects. This year's project involved creating "I Spy" or "Picture Play" type wall quilts for a new kid's discovery museum. Each quilt represents a different area within the museum and will be displayed in that area. My quilt theme is "Greenhouse" with suggested fabrics representing growing things, woodsy feel, and stepping stones. Each quilt also has a focus fabric within it, so that it becomes a game to try and find the fabric in each quilt as the kid's tour the museum. I ended up using the focus fabric in the binding. If you look closely at the right side of the quit, you will note the difference in the binding color.

Check out the finished quilt.

Greenhouse quilt education project 2011 Mid-Michigan Quilters' Guild.

Posted Mon, Aug 15 2011 9:55 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Monday's Musings #2

It's Monday again. Murphy's Law seemed to rule the day at work. I'm not letting him get ahold of my evening.

I worked for about an hour on the binding of the education project quilt. Then, I had to put it aside to begin a block to show as a sample for the guild board. I have put together a plan for an Applique Club with a project to complete during the next guild year. I must present the club idea with the project to the board tomorrow night, so I wanted to come prepared with a partially completed block. I am using Laurene Sinema's book Applique! Applique! Applique! The Complete Guide to Hand Applique for the project pattern called Heart Sampler. I don't expect there to be a problem starting the club - the guild is always looking for someone to head up a guild club or exchange - the board meeting is just a formality.

It's such fun digging through the piles of fabric to select just the right combination of colors. I have a rainbow of fat quarters chosen to make the nine heart blocks. I may not use all of them, but could not decide which fabrics to put back on the shelf. I will narrow them down as I complete each block. Block one has three colors of hearts layered atop each other and stitched with a blanket stitch. Using crayola colors, I have chosen a cornflower, goldenrod, and radical red for my colors of the hearts. Check out the Crayon box of colors Crayola offers. Besides the feel of fabric,  color is the next thing that grabs my attention at a quilt shop. Certain patterns just call out for a certain color, so having a stashful to choose from is so important to the quilter.

Night has fallen and now is the time for sleeping. The crickets are chirring outside, as the windows are open to let in the cool air. The moon and stars have been radiant in the clear sky. Summer is winding down.

Good Night!

Posted Mon, Aug 15 2011 6:03 PM by Pamela | with no comments

What I completed yesterday

It's "Later..." I spent all afternoon and evening working on a block that I drafted for a Country Woman magazine block contest. I finally got the block the way I wanted it, but decided I had worked on that project long enough. So, I started the binding for the guild education project that I had decided to make on Saturday. I was able to cut and piece together the strips for the binding, but decided I would get a good nights rest before continuing with attaching it.

Today, I measured twice and cut once, as carpenter's are taught. I find that when I get in a hurry and don't remeasure, I make mistakes. I had to add a few more strips to get the needed length for the binding. I measured again before stitching the final bias seam, but left a length of fabric, just to be sure. I have had to tear out seams and add more fabric to a binding before because I measured incorrectly. This time, the binding went on the quilt edge like a charm. I completed the process the same as I decribed in my blog about binding using a 2-1/8" strip. I am very pleased with the results. Tonight, I will stitch the binding down and attach the prepared label. Pictures to follow...

Then. I'll have to go back to that block contest project to finish it.

Posted Sun, Aug 14 2011 4:03 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Saturday's quilting project

I went out for my morning walk and got caught in the rain. The ground was already wet and the lightning was off to the West, so I thought that the rainstorm had passed. Unfortunately, it hadn't and I was 6 blocks from home when the rain began again. I ended up jogging between trees to stay as dry as possible, but still got drenched, my shoes squishing and my hair dripping.

So, "when it rains, I quilt"... Today I will forego my earlier plans and stay home and quilt. The biggest challenge will be deciding which project to work on first. I have a challenge quilt that is yet to be started, a guild education project for a new kid's museum that needs the binding made & attached, another of my own quilts waiting on the binding, and a new guild project that needs samples created. Three of the projects need completed sometime in the next month. That narrows the list. I should probably finish a project before I start another one. Then, I can cross one item off my list. By reasonable deduction, I have decided to do the binding. I'll meet everyone back here later.

Posted Sat, Aug 13 2011 10:51 AM by Pamela | with no comments

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"I'll learn to quilt when I retire"

I heard this comment again today. I was admiring all the lovely quilts at the St. John's Mint Festival Quilt Show this evening, when I overheard another admirer comment, "that is a lot of work". So, I said, "you're not a quilter?". And, the response - "I'll learn to quilt when I retire."

Ladies & Gentleman - don't wait until you retire to start quilting.

I have been sewing since I was 9-years-old and made a pair of black slacks in 4-H. I sewed clothes, crafts and learned to quilt as a teenager. I helped make a quilt as a gift, then made a quilt for myself when I was only seventeen. The quilting bug got me early. I read everything I could get my hands on at the local library. Even though I didn't have much spare income, I always found a way to make quilts. I hit JoAnn's for sales, picked up someone else's scraps at yard sales and estate auctions and gladly accepted someone else's no longer wanted UFO's.

Over the last 30+ years, I'm telling my age, I have improved upon my stitching ability immensely. I believe that if I had waited until I retired to take up the art of sewing and quilting, I would likely not have kept doing it. I am already experiencing decreased vision that requires bifocal lenses for close-up work. And, that doesn't even take into account the need for more and more light. I can stitch much better during the day and with a light right over my hand work or sewing machine. My hands are beginning to feel the affects of lots of use. Besides quilting - which includes rotary cutting, pressing fabric, hand applique, FMQ, and hand quilting - I spend a great deal of time typing on the computer, and I decorate cakes. This puts a lot of wear on your hands, shoulder and neck. I don't have carpal tunnel, but I have developed some degeneration in my joints. Waiting until you are older requires overcoming these obstacles while learning a new skill. If someone isn't as enthralled with quilts as much as I am right now, they are not likely to take up quilting in the fashion that I already do.

I don't just "make a quilt". Quilting is my passion. Browsing patterns, magazines and books gets my creative juices flowing. Going shopping for fabric is an opportunity to fondle lots of different fabric, even if I don't buy anything. And, actually cutting into the fabric and stitching it back together into a pattern brings a great deal of pleasure. It is pure joy to watch a quilt come together into the finished artwork that I envisioned. There is no way that I could "wait until I retire to learn to quilt". There are far too many quilts waiting to be made and I'll never be able to get them all done. Which is likely why I have so many projects going at once and such a long list of UFO's.

I attend quilt shows to see what everybody else is doing. I take time to read the story behind the quilt that is posted on the side of the quilt. I draw out block patterns that I like. I get up close to look at the quilting stitches. I step back and take in the entire quilt. A quilt show is the final step in making a quilt - the chance to show off your handiwork for others to see.

Posted Fri, Aug 12 2011 9:29 PM by Pamela | 1 comment(s)

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