Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shipshewana Shenanigans!

I know I've taken my time to get to this post...it was such a wonderful trip and SO much went on that it takes a while for me to settle it into categories in my brain!

This is the Farmstead Inn! And it is HUGE! I swear you could walk miles just inside the corridors which go from guest rooms to lounge areas with sofas and comfy chairs ((yes there are quilts on the walls everywhere)) and fireplaces, to another section, and another section, eventually finding your way past the pool and the breakfast area, all the way to the far end where our sewing room was.

I thought to myself it was a GOOD THING that our room was so far from the sewing room....because the treat table was right BEHIND us at the sewing room! LOL Something had to work off all those tempting munchies!

Here is my little baby surrounded by MESS! I know...that's the way I sew. Like a bomb went off! But whatever it takes, I tried to keep it all on MY side of the table! LOL!

And you know what? New machines take some getting used to. Don't put too much faith in any machine foot. Just because it says it is 1/4", don't believe it....do a test. Because I sewed a WHOLE mess of churn dashes only to find out they measured 5.25" instead of 5.5" by the time I was done. >_< I KNOW to do this..to test..I teach all of my classes this way. Run a seam test. But I didn't...and I was SO OFF! And this is after two days in Chicago, a long drive from Chicago to Shipshewana (Okay, and a stop off at Culvers on the way for my frozen custard fix!!)and an afternoon of gathering with friends and everything..I didn't do my seam test. I just sat down with my pieces and wanted to start SEWING. And PFFTT.

SO....never fear...it's not a wasted project. My brother and his wife are expecting their first baby, and they are going to get 4.75" finished churn dashes in their baby quilt! LOL! I'll finish it as soon as I know whether to emphasize the pink....or the blue.. :cD

But let that be a LESSON to everyone. AUUGH. I'm still so mad at myself.

Here's Randy and I working on our blocks! She is making a homespun quilt for her son's apartment....cozy yummy, it's going to be great! she got most of her blocks done, and I'm sure she'll have it completed in no time, right Randy?

Darlynn sat across from me and worked on her amazing quilt top with 2" finished bowties! Oh man....we were ALL drooling over these. This is the perfect quilt for ugly fabric! It's cut REALLY small! Just play with color! Lots of color...it was wonderful to see it come together. She is making it queen sized for her bed. I can't wait to see it finished! It also weighs a ton because of all the seams....a real Wisconsin Winter Quilt!

Hey Darlynn, have you thought of batting that beauty with WOOL!? It would be perfect!

Darlynn and Pat being their fun, goofy selves! I love these ladies! Of course, my natural born Minnesotan accent comes creeping thickly to the surface any time I am around them...it takes me weeks to get over it and get it back to "normal". :cD

Virginia had me sign her book, and we snapped this photo! I'm sure there are more photos floating out there, I only had my phone cam with me, and was telling everyone who took pics to send me some too! So there may be more shenanigans to come in future posts...Virginia, it was great seeing you!

So many of the retreaters seemed to spend more time shopping than they did sewing! But who am I to judge? I did some shopping of my own. Not a lot...but just enough!

This was it...minus one orange FQ That I already chopped up and put in a project! FQs in the boat at Lolly's were $1.75 if you got 12 or more, so we pooled our resources! Yardage was $5.99 in the basement, and I found a couple yards that had to come home with me....background neutrals are always a legal purchase! We need them! So the cream with red circles, and the purple stripe ((purple stripes are also a legal purchase! I Love stripes!)) came from the basement.

The shirting FQ's were a 1/2 yard collection that I split with Randy. I love the red on cream.....and I want to use some of these in my hexagon quilt. But you know what? I'd never use JUST these together. The ground is all the same shade of dirty beige...the red is all the same dye lot. I just need to mix it up a bit, add some brighter, some creamier, a bit of tan...and not make it look like the quilt came from a kit, from one fabric line. I love these shirtings...just not all in ONE project, you know? With antique quilts that I love so much.....fabrics from the scrap bag didn't all age the same, or start out the same. I think if I used "ONLY" these....that it would be a rather boring background.

My favorite "bring home" treat?

This baggie of scraps gifted to me by other quilters, and stuff I salvaged from the cutting trash bin! Look at this variety! All the colors, all the different pieces...THIS is what makes me giddy!

We'd go out for lunch, or to run to the bulk foods store, and come back...and there would be little scrappy piles on my machine bed just waiting for me. FUN! I can't wait to find ways to purpose these little memories of Shipshewana and a great weekend sewing with a room full of 54 fabulous quilters!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's snowing in Idaho!

According to my mom's cute post on her face book. SNOW?! It's not even Halloween yet! But I remember from my many years of living in Idaho....and having to bundle up kids with costumes OVER their coats ((this was a challenge)) to go trick or treating.

And I remember times in MAY...around Mother's Day...when it would throw us a nasty spring snow storm that would rival anything that came during January and February!

And here in NC? we've had wind, rain, more rain, thunder and lightning, blowing leaves...it LOOKS autumnal out there. It LOOKS like you should be able to grab a bulky sweat shirt and brave your way to the mail box, but once you go out? It's HOT! It's STICKY and HUMID...and it feels all kinds of weird! It was over 70 degrees at 7am this morning?

This pic was taken going UP my driveway...in bare feet and short sleeves because it is so weirdly WARM!

How can I justify a snow day when it is 75 degrees outside? LOL! I want a snow day! I want a reason to not have to leave the house, to put yummies in the crock pot and let them simmer all day while I work on this mystery quilt and other projects, while I just.....PUTTER....

No, I'm not complaining. It's gorgeous here. That blue sky, the sunshine after the storm, the leaves in glorious colors, living surrounded by the beauty...and oh! The smell of fall...it's wonderful. It's just not cold enough to justify staying in!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hexagons on the Brain!

Big Cities, Old Buildings, Tile Floors!

Three things that make me ooooohhh and ahhhhhhh! I just love old tile floors....This was in the ladie's restroom at Quartino's!

Yep.....can you see that as a border? I made SURE to catch the corner turn for future reference!

I've been so gung ho happy with these hexes that I even handed a stack of paper pieces and some scraps to Randy so she could start doing some too. It kits so easy...a few pieces of fabric, some thread, a needle, a pin, some paper pieces....and you are ready to go for hours! It was a 3 hour drive to Shipshewana from Chicago....and since we were being chauffeured by Darlynn who was driving, and Andrea, who rode shot gun....we stitched in the back seat and looked out the window and talked and gabbed and laughed...and stitched some more!

What about THIS one???

This was the floor at a little corner bakery where we got breakfast on Wednesday morning....the very beginning fuel up station for our 7.5+ miles power walk around Chicago day! I love the variations I see in tile floors....and there were LOTS of them. Some in entry ways of shops, some had designs in the tiles to spell out a name, a date. It was hexagons everywhere you look....when you open your eyes and start noticing them!

From here we went to a little hole in the wall nail place. Randy got a manicure...and since I was standing there, and they offered the service, I had my brows waxed! >_< It was a nice treat. She did such a good job that she actually used a little comb and scissors and trimmed the brow hairs to a better length. I guess in my old age, my brows are growing way out of control. I had no idea!! LOL!!

Happy Hour snacks were found at a place called "Rock Bottom" later in the evening while we were waiting for Ben, and this was the floor in THEIR restroom!

Yes. I admit it. I was taking pics of the floor while sitting in the stall..LOL! And it's also crazy, but i was wishing I had a floor like this at home, and a pack of dry erase markers so I could color them in any way I want....My Hexies have put a Hex on me!!

After posting this post...I got an email from Carla in Michigan, and she sent me THIS pic of a tile floor: ((of course I had to upload it and edit this post immediately...I was WOW over this one!))

She writes:

Love your post on hexagons and floor tiles. I found this floor in a Madison WI bar last month, old building with oak trim.
I thought the edging was a different treatment for a hexagon center.

Thanks for sharing Carla!

I took some time to lay out the progress to see how the border was going to fit...and after the time spent stitching at retreat, and the time in the Suburban all the way back to O'Hare yesterday morning....and the time spent stitching in between the time that Randy's flight left, and I still had 3 hours to wait for mine...and all the stitching I did on my flight home...I've finished another border section and have partly assembled another, so it's a bit farther than this now.

I'm still not counting how many hexagons there are, or how many there will be, or even how big will this be when I am done? All those kinds of questions I don't have an answer for, and of course they are questions that people want to know. I'll know when it's done. I know it will tell me. And I know I will probably move on to another!

Just give it a try....I know the little hexies will put a hex on you too!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Please Check Your Stash!!....

Teri from Indiana is on the look out for this striped fabric!

((the one in the center, used in the sashing))

Do you have it? Do you know someone who has it? Can you ask your quilty friends about it? Send them the link to this post so they can look please, we need to find it for her!

She is hoping to find at least 1/2 yard of it. If you DO have it..she is willing to beg, barter or steal BUY it from you!

She writes:

It is a stripe and I no longer have
the selvage.

The colors in the stripe are red/orange/aqua/white/yellow.

I believe it is manufactured by P&B or Michael Miller, but I can't be certain.

Please contact her via email at tjfritch@mchsi.com if you have it, she might not see your comment if you reply in the comments section of this blog post.

((I will forward comments to her that do show up in my inbox via the comments section))

Ready? Set? SEARCH!

Hexagon Tutorial

I've had so many requests to post this, that I finally bit the bullet. There are several tutorials out there, each one a bit different, and I thought I might put a link to this in my tutorials tab since so many are finding themselves bit by the hexie bug as I continue to post my progress!

The most common of hexagon patterns is the "Grandmother's Flower Garden" But did you know that mosaic patchwork goes way back before that popular hexagon revival of the 1930s?

There is a great article found on WomenFolk.com about the history of this kind of work, with the earliest known American mosaic quilt dating to about 1807, and English quilts are even earlier. I read about a template for this kind of piecing that is dated to around 1770!

The Illinois State Museum has a nice collection of mosaic or honeycomb quilts in their collection.

Several years ago while living in South Carolina, I was down in Charleston for the Cobblestone Quilter's 2003 Quilt show...and there was a book on mosaic quilts in the museum gift shop, as well as many mosaic quilts on display in the museum itself. You can bet that book came home with me! One of my favorite quilts was just a top in progress...fussy cut little hexagons, papers still in place, and you could read the writing on them! FABULOUS!

Though you can buy pre-cut English paper piecing hexagons, I've been having a lot of fun with this:

It's from Creative Memories, and has 2 sizes of hexagon punches. The one I am using on the right is a 3/4" per side, or a 1 1/2" finished size hexagon. The one on the left is smaller. Each side measures 1/2", for a 1" finished hexagon.

**Note** I've since been told that the hex punch has been discontinued, so if you can find one on ebay or craigslist, snag it!

I'm having a great time repurposing greeting cards, business cards, advertisements that come in the mail, anything that has that "card stock" feel to it. All those political flyers? Oh yeah..they are all getting chopped up! Those subscription cards that are blown into magazines? Perfect! (I've even been guilty of picking them up off the floor in the grocery store and putting them in my purse!) I have enough junk paper coming my way that I don't feel the need to have to buy pre-cut paper shapes. I'd rather spend that money on fabric!

If you don't have a punch, or access to pre-cut paper shapes, you can cut your own. You just have to be very careful that they are all exact so that they fit each other when you join them together.

I pre-cut my fabric shapes a scant OVER 1/4" seam allowance all the way around. I feel like the hex papers stay in better when my seam allowance is a bit more generous. This is just something I've figured out for myself while working on this 10 year old Phd! ((Phd=Project Half Done!)) Yes, that's right..I started this quilt THAT long ago and it has moved with me from Idaho to two places in Texas, to a place in South Carolina, and on to North Carolina. It's come out of the cupboard now and again, ((Not as often as it should!)) for 2 trips to the Netherlands...it is so very portable! But I've got the push to really keep working on it now and see it DONE. It could be that 10 year anniversary GUILT!?....who knows....*LOL*

SO! Here we GO!

Center a paper hex on the wrong side of the fabric. Take a small pin and pin the fabric in place on the BACK (fabric) side. This keeps your thread from getting tangled up in the pin when you are basting your corners.

I use a size 10 applique sharp when working my hexagons, and yes, I do use a thimble!

My favorite thread for basting/stitching hexagons is aurifil. I love how I can use a good length and it doesn't shred back up against itself the way that some other cottons do. Some like silk, some like bottom line. Thread is a personal preference. I'm using a shade of grey/green because it blends through all the fabric colors I am using without standing out too much against any of them.

This is the paper side of the pinned hexagon. The pin might buckle the paper a bit, but not too much. Some like to use a hole punch to punch a hole in the card, and pin through the hole, but I don't have time to be bothered with that. ;c) Just pin it!

Start at one side, and fold the seam allowance over the edge of the paper hex. Keep that pinched with your finger, and fold over an adjacent side, creating a little miter at the corner. Run your needle through the fabric, under the fold, but not through the paper. We are just going to be back-tacking the corners. The stitches will NOT go through the paper.

Working the same corner, do another little back stitch so your thread anchors that corner. Pull snug but not tight.

Fold over the next adjacent seam allowance, and tack stitch at the next corner in the same manner. The basting thread will travel from corner to corner on the back of the hexes.

**Note** If you are doing hexes that finish more than 2"...you might need to stitch through the card at the center of each side, as a really long stitch on the back might not be sufficient to hold your seam allowance in place. That *Will* mean you have to remove your basting stitches at a later point. You won't be able to continuously baste AND attach your hexagon to the next one, you'll have to baste the hexes individually and start a new length of thread to join the basted hexes.

I've only used this continuous method for SMALL hexes. The quilt I did with large hexes I just hand pieced the "regular" hand piecing way with no papers needed.

Continue all the way around the hex until you have tacked each corner. Just tack that 6th corner, there is no need to carry your thread all the way back to the first point...the basting threads will be on 5 sides only on the back of your hexagon.

If this were a center of a flower, I would knot my thread and end it here. But I am using this green hexagon in the border segment I am working on. No matter what pattern you are doing with these, the steps are the same.

I like my stitching to be as continuous as possible, and because I am adding this to another unit, I'm not going to end my thread here. Instead, I'm bringing my needle out through the corner of the hex, and I'm going to join it with the same thread to the unit already in progress. If you were making flowers, you would add them in the same manner. This helps keep things more secure. Since these sides are only 3/4"...I don't want a new piece of thread and a new knot every 3/4". And this gives me a way to see instant progress, instead of just building up a baggie of miscellaneous basted pieces that have to be sewn into something later.

Place the hex where you want it to go to check placement, and then fold it right sides together with the one you are sewing it to. It's a *Y* seam process, but it is very easy to do by hand.

The secret about whip stitching these together is to have your needle catch only a few threads of each hexagon at the fold. If your stitches take too big of a bite your stitches will show. Stitch only through the fold, not through the paper.

I take two stitches at every corner to anchor the corners and to keep them snug so they won't gap. Each side takes me 8-10 stitches to get to the next corner on these 3/4" per side hexagons. Work carefully, work slowly. When you reach the next corner, take two stitches to anchor the corner securely.

After reaching the corner, flip out the little hex you just added, adjust to the next side you will be sewing, fold it back with right sides together to align those two sides, and start stitching again. I find it helps me to pinch the adjoining hexagon to give it a crease which allows me to really stitch into the corner. Two stitches in the corner to anchor it good to prevent gaps...little tight stitches just along the fold, not too big of a bite to keep stitches nearly invisible, working toward the next corner.

When you reach the corner, two more stitches to anchor...

And if this is far as you can go, there are no more sides of that hexagon to stitch down, work a few stitches back toward the center of that hexagon, away from the corner. This allows you to keep corner stitches tight, and makes it so there is never a knot in the corner of any hexagon that might work loose. Knot and end thread.

Here is my hexagon all sewn into place on this border unit!

If you are working flower units, the system is the same. Baste your center hex. End the thread. Baste your first petal, bring the needle up through one corner, and attach it to the center hex without breaking the thread. End thread and baste next petal. Continue to add petals around the center until you get to the last hex! Sometimes you get to connect only one side, sometimes two, but that last one will have you basting your hex, and sewing three sides to set it into place with one length of thread -- no stopping. When you get used to the process, you can find yourself piecing whole sections and joining them together with long seams, just working point to point to point. It's addictive! And FUN! And a great way to make use of found time!

These flowers are waiting to be sewn into the next border section in my quilt.

And just to show you when you can remove the papers:

When the hexagons are completely surrounded by another row on all sides, you can easily lift the papers out and reuse them! This is the backside of the 3 flowers, and I've already snagged the center hex from the green middles. You WILL want to remove them as your project grows because it keeps the center supple and easier to work with it in your hands. Only the outer-most row needs to have the paper pieces in place to keep them in shape!

Ahhhh! Progress!! I can hardly wait to go to my bee meeting tonight so I can stitch on it some more! :c)

PS...if you want to print some hexagon graph paper so you can design your own layout with markers or colored pencils, click HERE! It's a lot of fun to design your own the way I did.

And for those asking --- My quilt will finish at approx 79" X 90". My hexagons are 3/4" per side, or 1.5" across the center from point to point. I have not even begun to count the pieces in this quilt, nor will I until the piecing is done!

No Place.....Like Home!

Oh My Goodness! I can't believe I couldn't find even a single moment in the past week to post! But let me tell you, there just wasn't! And you know, enjoying my time away from the computer meant that I shouldn't be running TO the computer to record every spare moment! I didn't even take as many pictures in Shipshewana as I was thinking I would, because we spent a lot of time just working at our sewing machines! I needed some down time, some me time, and I got it!

My adventure begins last Tuesday, Oct 19th.......It was a fairly normal morning! My flight wasn't until almost noon, so I got up, and finished my packing, and quilted a 65"X65" quilt for Lisa's Djembe project (these are turning out so NICE! I hope she will feature a story about them on her blog) while I was puttering around in the quilting room. Yes, I love my Compu Quilter, even if I haven't much moved past pantographs since I got it installed last December. I'm not ashamed of this. There will be time to do more, but for right now....it does what I need on the quilts I've needed to quilt! (I do dream of having time off to take some classes and really learn this thing...)

My flight was terrific.....it's only an hour and 45 mins to Chicago, which is barely time really to get settled, start sewing some hexagons, wait for the flight attendant to bring a beverage...and by then they start cleaning it all up again, and I continue to sew, listening to my ipod all the way and before I know it we are going down to land!

I had a couple of hours to wait for Randy's arrival from San Francisco, so I found an empty gate, (The best seat in the house is the one next to the wall plug!) Recharged my phone, listened to more music, stitching hexies away! And we were off on our Chicago-Indiana adventure!

The pic you see above was my first glimpse at the city through the 52nd story windows where we were staying....I always wondered what it would feel like to LIVE in a big city, and I think I got a big dose of it those couple days we stayed in Chicago!

We walked EVERYWHERE! We found the best little Italian restaurant, Quartinos, for dinner, and the eggplant Parmesan was to die for! Randy's son Ben joined us, and it was great to see mother and son together again. It makes me feel like part of her family too :c)

A brisk walk back to our lodgings and this was the view:

Is that not a spectacular night time sight? It was breath taking! I just couldn't take my eyes off the view from that window.

The next morning....Wednesday....I awoke to this as the sun was just rising and hitting the buildings:

I love sights like this one! Old theaters with great signs....

And although we window shopped...A LOT....I didn't buy much, but I did take advantage of the Garmin store (Like an Apple Store, but for Garmins..) that was close by where we were staying. I had just bought a Garmin 405 gps watch to track my miles when I power walk in strange places (on trips! Not that every place is strange...lol!) and I tell you what, you need to be an astronaut to figure this thing out. So....I went in and had this gal show me basics. JUST BASICS. And she was flipping this, and clicking that, and talking about all the functions and my head was spinning. SERIOUS. All I really want is something that will track miles, heart rate (It comes with a monitor for at the gym)and calories burned. Just basic GIRL fitness stuff, you know? Let's just say this thing is basically man-sized-over-kill. But. I have it. So I will use it.

This is my pic in front of the Garmin store:

In fact we used it so much that we clocked in over 7.5 miles on that day we were all over Chicago! Shops, restaurants, walking along the shore of Lake Michigan, The art institute to see the Van Goghs and the Renoirs....(Ooooohh I love the Renoirs!) Walking really adds up that fast! Of course we needed to walk that much with all the good food we found. And yes, I know you will agree with me. I am pants challenged. I just have the hardest time finding pants that are long enough that fit me right and feel good, I often go around looking like I'm expecting a flood to happen :c/ If I buy "TALL" pants they need to be hemmed. If I buy "REGULAR" pants...they are too short. Quilters DO NOT HEM. Therefore...I wear pants that look funny. Nuff said!

Our Wednesday evening walk along lake Michigan:

Wednesday night we met up with Ben again near his neighborhood and ate in a wonderful Costa Rican place. TALK ABOUT AMAZING. I honestly think that was our best meal the whole trip...It was a lay down on the floor and unbutton the jeans so you can breathe kind of good meal! LOL

I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with a friend from high school....Scott and I go all the way back to 4th grade, and the last time I saw him was at high school graduation in 1980 in San Jose, California. We've both come a long way, baby....and he and his family live in Chicago! We were all able to meet for a bit on Wednesday evening and catch up and visit.....Giants game over one shoulder, Blackhawks game over the other shoulder, and talk about the past 30 years and where our lives are now. He still has the same smile! The same eyes! The same red hair....the same Scott I remember standing in the back row of our class picture at Henderson Elementary (Tall ones always in the back!) and here we were 30 years later. It was amazing....Thank You, Facebook, for putting me back in touch with people who have grown up along with me....all of us together...it's an amazing tool! Thank You, Scott for taking the time (And a cab) down to where we were staying and spending your evening catching up! It was priceless!

After all the evening's excitement, it was back to our apartment so we could get some good shut eye...we were being picked up by Darlynn and Andrea so we could head out to Shipshewana early Thursday morning....and I'll continue that story in the next post! I've got tons of stuff to do these next two weeks..YES! I'm home for two weeks!