Thursday, March 31, 2011

News from the “Horse’s Mouth!”

Wow, yesterday’s post sure brought out a lot of comments and opinions! And I am positively grateful that we have this network of quilter-stranger-friends to bounce things off of.

That grapevine of information can open up worlds of understanding that many of us had never considered before.

Thankfully someone read on the blog about the fabric with the characters, and went searching for more answers for me!

This is the reply I got:

OK, Bonnie, here's the word on that quilt and the writing on the border from someone born in Japan! Even though I lived in Japan for 31 years, I didn't go to school there; however, all four of my daughters went through the Japanese school system and are native speakers.

I sent an appeal to them a few minutes ago to read that kanji on your fabric to see if there's truly as "random" and innocuous as I told you (like seeing some fabric with "horse" or "tree" or numbers scattered willy-nilly on it). Here's the skinny on that fabric straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.... One of my girls answered immediately and wrote,

"Totally random kanji. She shouldn't worry about it and send it. People in Japan wear T-shirts like that with kanji on them."

Hope that settles the question for you, and takes a load off your mind! THANKS for your blog; couldn't start my day without it! (^_^)

PS from Sandy: Japanese characters ARE Chinese in origin; they look the same as the ones the Chinese use, because they ARE! They are just pronounced differently, and Japanese add symbols to them to indicate subject, verb tense, etc., that aren't found in the original Chinese. Since there are no "extra" symbols in your fabric, that's how it's identified as Chinese, or even as ancient classical Japanese writing (which was about the same thing).

Way more of a language lesson than you ever wanted to know when you posted those pics! But just in case you get some posts from readers who want to argue the point of Chinese vs. Japanese, thought I'd throw in another two-cents' worth! :)

~ Sandy Shigeno

THANK YOU SANDY! This is a load off of my mind. I know I could have found another place to donate this quilt, but my heart was in it for Japan while piecing the batting, quilting it, and binding it. I also heard from Tammy, who was the one who donated the top to me for charity purposes in the first place. She said:

I was also saddened to find that you were told not to send it, because of the characters on two of the prints.

I don't know the expertise of the person who told you that these were Chinese characters, but I bought this fabric directly from Lonni Rossi's (she is the fabric designer) website when the fabric first came out. The reason I found it so appealling is that she said on her website that “the fabric was printed with a Japanese poem about nature.”

I am always very careful about any words in ANY language that go on my quilts, so I felt very safe with this print even though I couldn't read it. I hope that you will reconsider sending this little quilt to Japan. I would love to see it go to such a good cause. I'm gathering up some of the quilts that I just recently finished to send as well.

Sincerely, Tammy J. , Belcamp, MD

So there you have it girls! The quilt IS going to Japan!

quiltsforjapan 010 quiltsforjapan 011

These two pics show the areas where I removed the skull fabric…The left pic? I replaced them with the green with big random pink dots. In the right pic? It’s the purple-y fabric with the silver stars next to the lime green.

quiltsforjapan 017

I quilted it with a purple thread about the same color as the border print….the binding is on and just needs to be hand stitched down. I just used random strips of various greens sewn together for a scrappy green binding.

quiltsforjapan 013

I also chose the border fabrics for the sampler quilt I’m also going to quilt up and send over. I had a piece of brown dot that was great for the inner border…and the outer border? I’ve had this gorgeous green with pink flowers for a long time but a quilt never came around for using it. I used that as the outer border, and I inset 4 orphan “broken dishes” units as the outer border corner stones.

quiltsforjapan 014

A dig deep into the stash unearthed some pieces of Asian fabrics that had never gone into anything. There was a BIG piece of a beautiful print with cranes on it, a piece of cherry blossoms, and another piece that had japanese fans on it…I’ve incorporated them ALL into a backing:

quiltsforjapan 015

I know it looks kind of wild from far away, but the detail on the fabrics is really beautiful…

quiltsforjapan 016

So maybe this evening I’ll get this quilt loaded and can start quilting on it as well.

Thank you so much for all your replies and suggestions. I appreciate each and every one of them! I also loved knowing who else is going through the same things, wanting to donate a quilt to a good cause, but feeling “on pins and needles” about what is politically or culturally correct at the same time.

How are your Japan Quilts coming?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thinking Twice! ((No, Three Times!))

If you read the last post, you saw what I was planning on using for the Quilts for Japan effort.

I chose THIS backing fabric for the Scrappy Bargello…this has been in my stash for ages, I had some of this when it was originally out ((in the 80s?!?)) And then in the past year, a gift box included MORE of this in the same dye lot, so I had enough to piece for this backing….

I just loved this sweet print with the birds! Two color prints are still a favorite, and I love the subdued pumpkin color, with the flowers and birds left in natural. It’s just sweet, not overdone, not fake-dyed to look age spotted the way I see so many fabrics today trying to give a look of "reproduction aging" that is anything but real looking…This is what it is. I like it simple!

quiltsforjapan 008

I also found that I could empty a partial box of odd ends of batting scraps & strips by zigzagging them together into a size that was just right for this quilt!

quiltsforjapan 006

Just right! I just clean up the edges of the pieces, overlap them 1/8” and simply zigzag the edges together using the largest/widest zig zag my machine can offer.

And before I go any farther, YES, I know there is an adhesive tape that you can use to iron pieces of batting together. I don’t want glue in my quilt, and why would I want to spend $$ for that, when I can use it for REAL fabric?! This zig-zag way also stays very soft and supple, and you can’t feel any ridges in the quilt when it is done being quilted.

But to each their own, if you would rather spend money on adhesive tape to make good use of your batting scraps, go for it!

quiltsforjapan 007

Here is a close up of one seam…..the edges are overlapped and the zig zag holds them secure!

So where am I second guessing?!

I bet you couldn’t tell it from the pic in the last post, but there is a dandy of a fabric that is making me squirm about sending this quilt off to a country that has faced death and disaster:

quiltsforjapan 009

See the skulls? Normally, I think this would be a quilt that any teenager would love…but I’m just thinking…maybe…for a family that has lost people close to them, that this is not such a good idea.

What do you think? Of course, the easy thing to do would be just to quilt it…There are 12 2” squares of skull fabric in this quilt….will it really be noticed?

But on second thought…..It’s not exactly “Cheerful” is it?

I think I better spend some time with the seam ripper and replace those skulls with something a bit kinder on the heart ---Do you agree?

**Update** While this post was waiting in queue to post, I got an email telling me I might want to hold off on sending THIS quilt for Japan all together. Turns out those symbols in the border ((and the black print near the border in THIS PIC )) are CHINESE, and it would be offensive to the Japanese to send them Chinese symbols. Like "a kick in the teeth".

Well, lord knows I don't want to do that....but what to do now? My time is LIMITED. I worked on this all day. I did remove the skull fabric, I sewed the top back together, I've spent the last several hours quilting it.

I hit the road again next week. This is my one shot. If this is indeed the case, they may only be getting one quilt from me instead of two. Dang human relations anyway! I don't get it ---

I'll just save this for the "NEXT" global disaster ----

Quilt Tops Gone MIA!!---

Remember me posting about the quilt top I was going to quilt to send off to the “Quilts For Japan” drive?

I’m sure I’m not the ONLY Quilter this happens to, but….I could see that top so clearly in my mind, I thought I knew right where it was, and I looked and looked and looked and I can’t find it! WHERE could it go? I know it hasn’t left the basement. I KNOW I haven’t used it for another donation thing elsewhere ((Have I? Could I have already quilted, bound, labeled and donated and I don’t remember!?)) so where could it BE?!

However, never fear --- In my searches I came up with two tops I can quilt in rapid succession!

quiltsforjapan 003

This is a little sampler my online group did many years ago as a favorite fabric swap. It only ever got this far….it just needs borders, and I can quilt it and it will be good to go. It’s just the right size to be nearly a twin by the time I’m done with the borders. I’ll get on that today.

quiltsforjapan 004

This lovely scrappy bargello has been waiting for quilting for some time as well…just waiting for the perfect need to fill. It was given to me by a quilter-friend, Tammy from MD to use as a donation at some point, And when I found this top, I knew it was TIME to give it a finish and a purpose….

Could it be any better? Look at this border fabric closely!

quiltsforjapan 005

I just hope it says something nice…LOL Or…is this Chinese? Shoot. I don’t know! I just know it has an Asian feel to it, and I know it will go to a good home where it is needed.

The quilting will be simple….I’d like to get these done and bound by the time my travel schedule gets crazy busy starting next Thursday.

I feel a desire to dig through the orphan blocks and see what else I can come up with. And maybe, just maybe---I’ll find the top that I was thinking I was going to use for this purpose?

Wherever can it be hiding?! Flirt male

What can YOU do to help? Check yesterday’s post for the link for Quilters Newsletter and the guidelines. There is still time. They would like the quilts at their offices by April 30th. That gives us a month. Let’s do it!

quiltsforjapan 001

Last evening DH asked me to go walk the golf course with him while he played a round of 9 holes. It was sweatshirt weather, but not windy, and the sun sure felt good.

Do I have to remind you of how much I love the smell of cut grass? Rolling on the floor laughing

The grass is starting to green up, but it has a long way to go. It’s hilly where we live, so even just walking the course is a workout on the legs. Oh how I love to be OUTSIDE! And good thing I went yesterday, because it is raining today…how did I know?

Miss Emmy Lou woke me up by jumping up onto the bed soaked through…..She’d been out exploring! Which is a feat in itself! Remember, she is the one that wouldn’t leave the guest room? Seems that her boundaries have expanded since Oscar is no longer on the prowl. She’s even come down to the quilt room a couple of times and settled herself in a chair! Strange. But comforting all the same!

Welcome to your Wednesday! What will you choose to do with it? Winking smile

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Waking Up on Spin!

I woke this morning to the feeling of the house a shakin’, rattlin, and rollin’ ---- The washing machine was on spin cycle! Which means --- Someone OTHER than me was doing laundry! ***HUGE SMILE*** Rolling on the floor laughing

I found this video while searching for an out of control machine pic to post here! This was NOT what I was looking for, but you know, I like the music and it's got me moving this morning! LOL!!!

By the looks of the laundry laying around the flat ((I'm assuming this is college partying...)) I guess the washing machine was better as a costume than as an actual way to get clothes clean!

And back to MY wake up call with the machine -- it was at least after 7am, which is okay with me. I’m still greatly enjoying the mornings that I get to wake up without an alarm clock. Even if I wake up at the same time as I would *WITH* an alarm…just waking up without one is a much gentler ease into the day, isn’t it?

I eased my way down stairs…which isn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be, my trainer didn’t kill me as much as I anticipated! This is a good thing. I’m happy to be getting back into a regular workout routine. I’ve missed it. Winter always does this to me. I’m like a bear, I want to hibernate in the winter, but as the days get longer…I’m ready to be out and be active and make the most of it.

This quote is pasted right here on my desktop:


This morning there is a pilates class at 10:30, I think I’ll be there to stretch and ease out any soreness from yesterday.

Oh, the little heart hanger you see at the top? That’s a goodie I picked up while roaming an Antique Mall on my way to Alabama ---Somewhere in Georgia! Poor little thing was in a booth marked “Everything 50% off” and I knew it could have a place with me, and is now hanging from the knob of my china cabinet door. I love little bits made out of old quilts like this!

I spent wonderful bonding-time with my machine last night! I finished my block for Quiltmaker’s 100 blocks, Vol 4 ((Which missed the first deadline, but hey, I’m doing as best as I can here!)) and it is ready to send out today. I’m THRILLED with this block…I wish I could show you, but alas, it’s a secret!

I moved on to laying out the pineapple project I’ve been working on for years. Subee posted her version that she made from my pics, but I’m keeping THIS one under wraps too because it is for the next book due out next year!

For those of you who loved doing my Perkiomen Daydreams quilt from Scraps & Shirttails I, with it’s 10,000 pieces? Let’s just say this one tops it at 11,892 pieces!

pineapplecrazy 006

And no, it didn’t make a dent in the crumbs buckets that I was working out of. So..I’ll soon be picking another long-term project just for the “Joy of Piecing”..and it might take years, but it will be worth it. Not everything needs to be a quilt in a day, or even a week, month or year, does it? Some things we do just because we love them, and they have no deadline!

These are my current crumbs buckets. They might not look like much to you, but their contents are dear to me! I love finding places where they can go…the biggest benefit of using and saving crumbs? VARIETY! Endless VARIETY right there at my fingertips. Flirt male

I plan on sewing on the pineapple more this afternoon, assembling the blocks into rows…..and plan to pin a top into the quilting machine destined to go to Quilters Newsletter Magazine for the Quilts for Japan. Have you found something you can finish and donate? I know they are going to need all the quilts they can get!

And you know what? That’s all there is to report for now, because all is well in my world! Off to the gym I go!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Another Free Kindle Book!

Don’t you just love these?

I mean, even if it turns out to be a book you don’t like…just delete it. It was free! I was always leary of buying a book I wasn’t sure I would like. And I love to discover new authors, so sometimes you just have to go by the title, the description and hope for the best!

This one looks lighthearted and fun ((As much as lighthearted can be for a murder mystery?!?Who me?)) But I’ll give it a shot! It’s called Getting Away Is Deadly!

I downloaded it this morning. I have no idea how long it will be “free” but as with all links that I upload, please check the price to see that it hasn’t reverted back to an actual COST before you download. Prices are subject to change at any time.

Book Description:

Air Force wife and professional organizer Ellie Avery goes to Washington, D.C., expecting some R&R while her pilot husband attends classes - but it's Ellie who gets a deadly lesson when this getaway turns out to be murder...

With swollen feet and swelling belly, pregnant Ellie bravely joins the nation's tourists in seeing the sights in Washington D.C. Husband Mitch has to attend military training, but as Ellie visits monuments and museums, she has other Air Force wives for company, including her best friend Abby. She also plans to catch-up with Mitch's scatter-brained sister Summer, who is finishing college while working as a nanny for a Washington media star, and do a personal favour for her favourite cousin.Factor in some serious shopping, and this sounds like a fun trip. But before she can take care of her cousin's request, the man she is supposed to meet breaks their date...because someone tried to kill him on his way to see her.

Is it a random mugging? Ellie almost buys that explanation. Then a fatal incident at the Metro station, Summer's furtive behaviour, and too many people telling lies, as well as keeping secrets, convince Ellie that something is rotten in the nation's capital. Should she do the safe thing and pack her bags? Not likely when Ellie Avery is just the right woman to clean up the most mysterious cases of murder.

It might turn up at Barnes & Noble as free in the future, but right now it’s running at $9.99 there. Keep watching if you have a nook. I don’t have one, so that’s why my posts usually revolve around free kindle books!

SO! Guess what it is doing here today? Yes, in the beautiful state of North Carolina, where just last Wednesday I was running around Raleigh in SHORT SLEEVES with no sweater soaking up that bright warm yellow thing full of vitamin D called SUNSHINE?!? It’s..*cough*….SNOWING. Annoyed Thumbs down

Granted --- It’s wet and heavy and it’s too warm out there for it to stick, but the roads are slushy and wet and it has made my running to the gym and the bank and all the other errands I’ve run for my usual Monday be just a bit of a downer!lincoln lawyer

Yesterday DH and I wandered out to see an afternoon matinee. We saw “Lincoln Lawyer” and I really enjoyed it! ((But then what’s not to like about Matthew Mccouuughhnennnahhhehghhay?? Flirt male --yeah, I can’t spell it, but who can?!?)) It had a bit of a predictable courtroom drama type plot, but it did keep you engaged, and it wasn’t overly bloody, leaves you rooting for the good guys and booing for the bad guys and it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

A trip after that to Lowes for assorted household objects including a new dehumidifier in prep for the coming humid season ---This one is for the sunroom and the storage area beyond it, it just gets heavy-aired in there---and we spent the evening just doing little of nothing. Nice.

I love Mondays! It means a brand new week, a clean slate! Wishing y’all a great week!

Those “Bonus” Triangles!

Click HERE for printer-friendly .pdf version!

As a Vagabond Traveling Itinerant Quilter….I have come to learn that there are “two camps” to the idea of “Bonus Triangles!” Either people hate them, can’t be bothered to spend the time to find a way to use them….or they LOVE THEM so much they just can’t let them go!

I know I am in the latter camp….but it took many years of dealing with odd sizes to develop a way that would WORK for putting these little gems to good use.

Let’s face it --

The method of drawing 2 lines 1/2” apart from each other on the back of the square being added to the snow-ball block, the flying geese rectangle, or whatever else you were doing….just made that “Bonus” be more of a Bother and a Blunder….The math didn’t work out!

Let’s talk about a 2.5” square as the corner piece, for example --If you sew those so each piece gets that exact 1/4”….you end up with a bonus triangle you have to square DOWN to 1 3/4”. Thumbs down I don’t know about you, but things that finish at 1 1/4” are just NOT user friendly with the sizes of scraps that I keep on hand. this would mean I would have to trim things down FURTHER to 1 1/2”….finishing at 1”…if I wanted to pair it with the other sizes of units I keep on hand---OR….cut all new fabric in weird sizes to go with them, giving me blocks that don’t fit nicely with the other things I like to do. I prefer blocks and units that finish on the even inch or half inch. Things that finish on the quarter-inch are just a Bummer!

So here is a little trick I use to ensure that I get the 2” unfinished size that I can readily use, finishing at 1.5” in the block!

We’ll start with a 2” X 4” finished flying goose unit for example!

I pulled a 2.5” X 4.5” brick from the brick drawer for the base of the goose, and a pair of blue 2.5” squares for the “Wing” triangles.

But before we sew…we need to make a “triangle buddy” Open-mouthed smile

Determine what size you would like your unfinished Bonus Square to be. With the 2.5” square, I just subtract 1/2” to give me 2”. 2” unfinished is great!

In my workshops I pass out some “old” business cards ((You know how it is, the email address has changed, what am I going to do with a whole box of 1000 cards?))

bonussquaretutorial 001 bonussquaretutorial 002

Business cards are already 2” tall, if they are standard! Cut a 2” square from the business card…discard the odd end. Now cut that 2” square on the diagonal corner to corner. You’ve now got TWO Triangle Buddies!

bonussquaretutorial 003

I use these a lot at home, so I’ve also cut them from template plastic and mark the size on them. They are not as high contrast for pics for this tutorial, so you’ll see me using the business card ones!

I am one of those who DOES like to sew on a line if I am doing this type of method. I’ve tried the line drawn on the machine bed…I’ve tried the piece of tape, I’ve tried that angler, I’ve tried folding—but I know me, and I prefer to use a pencil or a pigma to DRAW an actual sewing line if the square is 2.5” or larger. If it is smaller, I’m pretty well able to “aim and shoot”….But with 2.5” or bigger, I get the best results when I have a line to follow.

First: Draw your center line from corner to corner across the square.

Next: Lay your Triangle Buddy in the corner, using it for the placement to draw your second seam line.

bonussquaretutorial 004 bonussquaretutorial 005

I know drawing the lines is boring. I usually save this for when I am sitting somewhere away from the machine, maybe while watching TV…I have a sand paper board that is great for this. With dark fabrics, I use a white ceramic pencil, with light ones, a mechanical pencil or this very fine pigma work just great.

Experiment with what you like to mark with, you want your lines clearly visible.

bonussquaretutorial 006

I’ve marked both of my squares for the wing triangles, and I am ready to sew!

bonussquaretutorial 007 bonussquaretutorial 008

When sewing, I like the left side of my needle to just “KISS” the inside of that center line. My stitching is JUST in the channel between the two lines but touching the lines. This gives me a bit extra for the triangle to fold up and over the stitching. Even though we are not sewing on a CUT bias, we ARE still sewing on a bias, and fabric can crawl, so I do pin just to hold things square. I also piece with very SMALL pins…Save those big yellow headed quilters pins for other tasks..I like these tiny glass head ones!

bonussquaretutorial 009 bonussquaretutorial 010

This is crucial! So many patterns say “Stitch, Cut, Press, Discard” in that order! I find it really important to flip that triangle back first, make sure it is going to meet the edges of that base rectangle nice and square FIRST! I give it a good finger-press and crease with my fingernail.

If it meets and is square, then and only then…do I flip it back and sew the second seam. Reason? If it isn’t sewn right, who wants to un-pick TWO seams to fix it? Annoyed

If it doesn’t meet? Do double check the size of your square..if it is 2.5” X 2 3/8”…you aren’t going to get a good result!

bonussquaretutorial 011 bonussquaretutorial 012

I do chain piece these….stitch all the center lines first, cut apart, then flip them to check placement, and then sew the second lines. Since I am snipping the units apart anyway, it’s really easy just to use my scissors to cut between the two seam lines. Look at the two units you get! And because you used a “triangle buddy” to mark your line for the bonus triangle, it is ALREADY 2” square! All you should need to do is trim off the dog ears. Get those out of there…I never understood why some quilters keep them in? They get in the way, they make seams bulky, you can’t see where you are going….snip snip and they are gone!

Now listen to me---each seam allowance WILL be a bit smaller than the traditional 1/4” seam. About 1/16” less. I can live with this. When I’ve sewn miniatures, I’ve been told to sew my 1/4” seam and then grade it down by half to eliminate bulk. Your quilt will not fall apart! But I wouldn’t go with any less seam than this…what is more important to me is the finished size of the bonus unit, NOT that each and every piece have an exact 1/4” seam. if the seam is in the proper place, the size of the seam allowance is neither here nor there. Remember, there are countries that use metric measurements, and their seams are not an exact 1/4” and their quilts are holding up just fine! Rolling on the floor laughing

bonussquaretutorial 013

Here I’ve added the second square, checked for placement, sewn the second line for the bonus triangle unit, and cut them apart!

bonussquaretutorial 015

I’ve got one goose, and two spare goslings!

It’s a simple concept. It’s about leaving your extra bits in useable sizes that will work with other things. It’s about finding purposes for squares and bricks you already keep on hand. It’s about using that stash to its full potential and getting wonderful quilts out of it and minimizing the work and brain cramps at the same time! The possibilities are endless….

Go get creative!