Thursday, April 21, 2016

Loving Hands Quilt Guild

Our church in New Berlin, WI, has a quilt mission as part of the Women's Mission groups.  As my co-leaders Suzi always says, we're "small but mighty".  We have about six or seven core members, and sometimes we pull in other people for a project here or there.

We always have a bag of quilt kits in our resource center, but sometimes our 'parts department' gets a little low.  We love making string blocks, and putting them into quilts, but we stopped making them for a while so we ran out.

This year we wanted to spend a day sewing together, and it seemed like getting some string blocks done would be a good project for all skill levels. You know what string blocks are I'm sure... but here's a sample just in case:

I made these 3 1/2 inch blocks of leftover pieces a while back. 
Our blocks at church are usually 9 1/2 inches. 
We had a whole bag of 'strings', which are the cuts that are left over when you make a project.  Sometimes they're large and can be used again in a quilt, and sometimes the pieces are short but can be sewn together and used, and sometimes you wonder why you didn't throw them away to begin with!

Suzi brought her bucket of strings too, and that turned out to be a BIG pile of goodness! We ended up with a crew of nine or ten, including one teenager and my own Miss A, who is almost 9.  So we went all the way from 9 to 90+!

We work on foundation blocks, pieces of fabric too light to use in an actual quilt; we had a ton of those precut.  Several of the ladies and the two youngsters had never made a string block before.  It's a good block for beginners to start with because it's so forgiving.  A demo of the process was made and we were off to the races!

At various points during the day we ate, played bingo with quilt words and gave away prizes, then returned to sewing.  By the end of the afternoon we had over 30 blocks, 9 1/2 inches square, sewn, pressed and trimmed to size.  Next time someone is looking for a project, this could be the one they pick up!

Sadly I took almost NO pictures during this wonderful day.  Next time, for sure...  A good time was had by all.  I hope we made some new friends, and that they come back again next month.  Our 'parts department' is full again!

Sew on...

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Craft Lovers, Unite! We're Expanding Our Skills...

I can't decide which craft activity is my favorite.  I love to:
  • sew garments
  • make quilt tops
  • knit
  • crochet
  • bead
  • make cards
  • draw
  • color with crayons or other medium
  • paint things like small furniture items, fabric or paper
  • dye things
  • embellish things
  • refashion things
I sometimes wonder if there's anything I won't try at least once.  I tried flower pounding at a quilt shop years ago.  Smashing the leaves and petals into treated fabric made interesting designs, but I thought it was a lot of work for results that could be less than stellar.  Although it was a very good way to work off some calories, and maybe some aggressive tendencies!  If you're interested there was actually a booklet on the subject... try googling it to see if it's still in print.

Pounded flowers from someone else's project.  Mine looked nowhere near this good!!

socks I knit...

Miss A and I colored on fabric with markers.

I refashioned a jacket and got many more uses out of it!

I love doing these mindless art projects.
all my yarn ends made a warm couch blanket.

The girls painted rocks...

and I painted a flower pot.

My problem is, where do you stash all the craft supplies?  My resource center is kinda bulging.

However, I justify what I'm doing by the following list from Highlights Magazine's website:

Here are just some of the developmental skills your preschooler learns while working on crafts:

1. Following Directions

2. Focus and Concentration 

3. Fine Motor Skills 

4. Patience -- personal note:  I am still working on this!!

5. Early Problem Solving Skills 

So really, I'm contributing to my own education every time I start a new project, right??

Craft on...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Lily or Lilly?

Last fall, one of my coworkers, a man I know well and respect but who is also a friend, became a first time grandfather.  He and his wife and family were then and still are very excited about the baby.

He told me she came unexpectedly early, and he spent quite a number of months going back and forth between home and hospital, in cities that were many miles apart.  But baby is fine now in spite of the difficulties of her early months.

When he told me her name, I loved it.  Of course I'm not sure how they're spelling it, Lilly or Lily, but whichever way, I'm sure she's beautiful!  All grandbabies are beautiful.  It's a fact!

So began my quest for lily fabric.  I checked local shops, and you could find multiple florals of every variety, but the lilies were day lilies or tiger lilies, or God Forbid Easter Lilies... which I do not like and I don't care for the smell they give off!

You would think that in my mountains of fabric I'd have something appropriate!  Sadly, no...
What to do?  Google, of course... I did try several on line fabric shops, and Etsy and eBay.  I found a lovely fabric on Etsy but when it arrived it was heavy drapery type stuff.  Then I found some fabric with lilies that ended up being much less attractive in person, and was nearly impossible to coordinate with anything to make it so.  Maybe someone else could do it, but  not me!

Not that attractive, and hard to match...

Pretty but a very heavy weight

Ta Da!!  At last!  Something I can work with!!
After receiving three or four packages in the mail, and getting the evil eye from DH a couple of times, I landed on a web site that had what looked like the perfect lily fabric, and when it arrived, it WAS the perfect fabric.
The pattern is called Five Easy Pieces.  I'm not sure who the designer was, but it appeared in Quilty Magazine and in one of the Quilty books, so I'm thinking Mary Fons had at least looked at it!  In fact she had made one with a monkey print as the focus fabric.  It's basically a large-centered, abbreviated log cabin.  The pattern comes from alternating the logs around the center block.
I named it the Lily Quilt.  Because, why not and what else?
I actually finished the top in January.  By then I think Miss Lilly was home from the hospital.  I thought "Self, better get going"...
Before Easter, I laid the quilt on the table and pinned it up.  Ready to go, right?  Fear struck!!  OMG I have to quilt this thing!!  I'm not a good free motion quilter. I admit it.  I consider myself a piecer, and when the top's done, I'm done.  The only really finished finished quilts I've worked on have been quilted by others.  AND THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!!  But I wanted to do this one myself.
Why??  I don't know.  It was completely irrational.  My friend Suzi asked if I wanted her help on it so I could finish it before Lilly starts college.  I declined.
Why?  I don't know, it was irrational and if not irrational then silly to say the least!
It sat rolled up on my sewing table for several weeks, nagging and making me avoid my sewing room.  Oh really?  Really...  but then I started getting the urge to sew, and dang it, that quilt was NOT going to stand in my way.  I'm bigger than it is, right?  Who says one little quilt is going to stand between me and my Baby Lock??  Ha!
Saturday Miss A came over and I said "We are going to sew today!"  Whoo-hoo, let's get down there!!  I gave her a project to work on and got myself set up.  The first stitch was the hardest, let me tell you. 
I was aiming for large, meandering stitches, but it wasn't long before I was crossing myself up so I decided to go loopy.

Those rose shaped just begged me to go around and around... I had this fabulous variegated thread too.

This is the back of that rose shape.  Hey, I'm impressed!

Getting adventurous, I put in the date on one of the sashing strips.

I quilted my name in too, but on the front it's in the patterned block so it's hard to find.  I also put the name LILLY in another spot.

So to those of you like my friend Suzi who do fabulous free motion quilting work, don't worry, I'm not about to give you any competition yet, but I can say I did this one all by myself!

The one thing I forgot to do thus far is take a photo of the whole thing, quilted.

And I did label it.  Don't forget to do a label especially on quilts you're giving as gifts.  I'm so guilty of not doing that.

Sew on...