Friday, May 11, 2012

More Bags!

I love this bag!  It's not fast to make, even by the 6th one, but it is fun and the color combinations are endless.

I'm doing all of them with two large open sections and a zippered section in the middle.  It's not exactly like the pattern calls for and it uses a little more fabric, but I like the results.  Most have a cell phone pocket and some have a metal ring, for those who like to hook their car keys onto something inside their purse.

One of these will be a birthday present, the rest I think I'll put on  If I can bear to part with them!

Here they are.  You can click on each image to get a larger, more detailed view.  Only the raindrop fabric and the polka dot fabric (on the original bag) are laminated.  All others are either regular quilting cottons or batiks.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

"Melly & Me" Purse

I did something this weekend that I don't believe I've done since high school sewing class:  I put in a zipper!  Yeah, a zipper!  Quilts don't require many zippers and so I've managed to avoid it all these years, but today I made a purse.  There it was in the supplies list... 13" zipper.  Yikes.  But it turned out to be easy and the purse only took this afternoon to construct.  It's a pattern by Melly and Me called Raspberry Ripple.  You can search Google Images and see the original.  This is my version and I love it!  I used a laminated cotton for the bottom pleats (recognize that polka dot fabric from my big tote bag?) and the handles.  That was a bit interesting, but I like the effect.  And think how easy it will be to keep clean!

This really was fun to make and I like the finished bag, so I will probably be making it again in different colors. Pretty sure I need one with red poppies on it somewhere and, of course, I already have poppy fabric that will work.  For this one, I purchased the large, cheerful print (50% off!) just for this bag, but I had the other fabrics in my stash.  I can hardly believe I FINALLY found a use for the lime green and wavy purple stiped one!  LOL I'm not even sure how long I've had it.

I didn't attach the handles as far down on the top section as the pattern indicates because I decided they should be a bit longer.  Next time I'll just cut them longer before I put them together.  "Sew and learn."

I found the decorative buttons when I bought the large print fabric.  I couldn't resist because the colors are a perfect match.

Here it is:  a zipper!  Woo hoo!
The bag has a large zippered center section and open compartments on either side of the zippered section.  It's not a huge bag but it's pretty roomy.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

More Mini Quilts

I'm willing to admit my interest in miniature quilts has become an obsession.  I showed you the first two in the last blog entry; I've now completed 7, plus two that go with the teddy bears.  

Here's the current 7 that will be given to the quilt guild for the January 2013 quilt show.  None measures more than 20" on a side; almost all are embellished by beads.

I tried to use a variety of techniques, from paper piecing to applique (both raw edge and turned edge) to regular machine piecing. Here are some close-ups of the newest 5:

Raw edge iris applique.

Paper pieced pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness.

Paper pieced flower, with appliqued leaves and a wide border.  This one is all batiks, my favorite fabric.  The only embellishment is a thin line of an orange/copper metallic.

Little pinwheels and flying geese in William Morris reproduction prints.  Pearls (no, not real ones) used for embellishment.

A simple square-in-a-square pattern using 1930's reproduction prints and a bright white-on-white fabric.  I used a variegated thread for the quilting.

It's going to be hard to give these all up!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mini Quilts

Mini quilts?  In the past couple weeks I've often been asked what's a mini quilt and what do you do with one?  I'll admit I had the same reaction when I first saw them but I'm warming up to the idea.  First of all, a miniature is pretty much like a regular quilt, only it measures 20" or less on all sides.  It should have the same features as a regular quilt, just scaled back to make it look balanced and appropriate for the size.  Really skilled quilters can make them extremely small, but the smaller you go, the harder it is to get the details nice and sharp.  I've seen some at quilt shows that take your breath away because the pieces are so tiny and they are so perfectly made.

I decided to give it a try because my quilt guild has a show every two years and they use minis in an auction to raise money for guild projects.  They've asked each member to make twelve!  I don't think I can do that, but I can contribute a few.  Now that I've started, I'm having a blast with them and think I may do more than a few.  Maybe.  We'll see.  I've got until January 2013.

Oh yeah, I posted a two part question, didn't I?  The second part was 'what do you do with a mini quilt?'.  Honestly, I'm not entirely sure.  Maybe a cute little table topper.  Or hung on a wall, either with other small quilts or artwork, or in a small space all by itself.  Really small ones could be used in doll houses as bed quilts, wall hangings or even as tiny area rugs.  Adding a matte and frame would enhance any tiny quilt and show it off.  Of course, like any quilt, a mini would make a thoughtful gift.

I've made my first two and planning to do a couple more this month.  Both of these are embellished with beadwork and gold metallic thread for some of the quilting.   They were fun to make and I think I'm hooked!!!

This one is machine pieced and is 12 inches by 12 inches.

This one is hand appliqued and measures 19 inches by 19 inches.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Have an Opinion? Vote!


Vote for your favorite quilter, 
quilting teacher, quilt designer, etc!  
The Golden Quilter Awards!
Click on the SewCalGal's logo image 
above to get to the voting site.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Shine On, Shine On!

An important aspect of the fight against any chronic illness is the constant need for fundraising.  Continuing research, awareness and education, as well as assistance for those who have been diagnosed and their families - it's all important and it all takes money.  My friend and co-worker, Evelyn Rubinan-Maldonado has been diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  We raise funds and awareness through many events, including walks and bake sales.  I've made a quilt to help with the fundraising; we'll be selling $3 raffle tickets throughout the Spring and early Summer of 2012, with the drawing to be held on July 4th, 2012.  

I've named this one "Shine On, Shine On!" in honor of Evelyn's fundraising group, The Sunshine Walkers.  Award winning longarm quilt artist Mary Beth Krapil did the quilting.  

The quilt top is 100% cotton and incorporates the Celestial Dreams sun and moon face designs of Laurel Burch.  The mariner's compass design in the center is a starburst for our Sunshine Walkers!  The backing is a gorgeous batik.  The batting is a very light-weight tropical wool, completely washable.   This batting is a favorite among quilters because it will always remain soft and comfortable; even in Florida it doesn't get too warm!

"Shine On, Shine On!"
40" x 40 "
A narrow sheath has been sewn along the top edge 
so the quilt can be used as a wallhanging.
But it's a good size for a lap quilt, a wheelchair quilt or a baby quilt, too.

The Laurel Burch sun faces are all different and beautiful.

The label reads:
"In honor of Evelyn Maldonado, the Sunshine Walkers, 
and all those who have felt the impact of ALS on their lives."

It's been said that wrapping a quilt around you is like a comforting hug, 
always there when you need it.
Quilters believe they put love in every stitch.
Hoping this quilt finds a good home through the raffle!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mini Quilts and Teddy Bears

Other than quilts and an occasional curtain or pillow, I don't sew much.  I don't make clothing, I don't cut out intricate pieces of fabric and follow patterns.  I rarely even make quilts from patterns.  Perhaps I'm just too independent to take direction well!  (I think I've had a boss or two tell me that.)  But the quilt guild I belong to (Cabin Fever Quilters Guild) recently presented us with a challenge that required a couple new skills.  Since that's one of the reasons I belong to a guild, I jumped right in.

The challenge is to make a teddy bear and a tiny quilt to go with him.  The pairs will be displayed at our bi-annual quilt show next January, then after the show they will be given away.  We can designate where the quilt will go - a friend in need or an organization that will distribute them - but we can't keep them.  The other requirements are that the bear can't be larger than 24" and the quilt must have a heart on it somewhere.  The whole thing is such a great idea that I couldn't pass it up.  While not everyone wants, needs or appreciates a full quilt, who wouldn't be comforted and pleased with a bear/quilt pair?  They are small enough to sit on a shelf, if not on a bedside, even in a nursing home room.  As Teddy Roosevelt himself would have said, "Bully!"

I've never made a mini quilt and wasn't sure quite where to start so that was a learning experience too.  These hands, with a touch of arthritis, don't love working with tiny pieces of fabric but I think I'm going to have to get used to it.  Minis are fun!  I discovered there aren't many rules about mini-quilts, just that they should look like a regular sized quilt, with everything in proportion, including the quilting.  There was a temptation to do really tiny quilting patterns but I wanted the finished quilt to be as soft and flexible as a regular quilt, not like a wallhanging, so I stayed with a little bit bigger pattern.

So, here it is.  My first quilt/bear pair.  (I haven't added eyes yet; still looking for the perfect buttons for that.)

The inspiration for the little quilt came from the Fresh Lemons website; their quilt is called Stepping Stones.  It was a way to use lots of little batik pieces.  Now I want to make a regular sized quilt like this!  The bear's fabric is an old Hilo Hattie Hawaiian shirt that hasn't been worn in years.  We've put that shirt in the Goodwill stack several times but always pulled it out at the last minute because it represented too many good memories of a trip to Maui in the early 1990's.  This seemed like a good use for it, but it may not have been my best choice...  more on that in a minute.

Because of the tropical look of this pair, I'm calling this quilt "Meet Me At Lorelei's".  There is a perfect little marina cabana bar in Islamorada FL, down in the Keys, called Lorelei's.  Heading down to Key West, watch for the giant mermaid on the right hand side of A1A.  Don't pass by.  Stop.  Have a blackened fish sandwich and some conch fritters. You'll be glad you did.  There's always time for a stop at Lorelei's.

I included the required heart and free motion quilted with a pretty variegated thread in a loopy, spikey sunshine kind of design.

So, back to why using the Hawaiian shirt may not have been a good idea:  the biggest requirement of this project is that we give away the pair after the quilt show.  But once my DH Jim saw the bear he claimed it.  It wasn't "This is nice; I hope we get to keep it."  It was "This one is mine."  OK.  How can I say no?  I used his shirt!  Like I said, everyone needs a little comfort from time to time.  This one won't be submitted for the show and subsequent donation, but I've got lots of time to make another, similar pair and I will.  

I've already made another bear and have the fabric that I'll use for the quilt back.  The fabric on this bear is a faux leather in a zebra pattern.  I love it and am glad I bought enough to do a couple bears.  The quilt fabric echoes the zebra pattern.

Both bears are from Simplicity #5461.  They are about 22" tall.  The pattern includes an 18" bear too, along with instructions for vests and a great little hat.  Because each of my bears will get a quilt, I'm going to skip the vest, but I'll definitely be making a hat or two!

If you sew, think about making something for someone who could use a little comfort.  If you don't personally know anyone dealing with a life challenge, there's bound to be an organization in your area that knows where an item would be appreciated.  As Teddy would have said "It's a bully idea!"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I've Got The Blues

I am amazed when I look back at the quilts I've made and see how many are either dominated by blue or at least contain some striking blue aspects.  When shopping for fabrics, it's the blues that often attract my attention first (although I manage to find the time to look at ALL the colors before leaving any quilt shop).

Besides the 2 or 3 (or maybe 4) blue ones in earlier posts, here are a few of my bluer quilts:

Cowgirl Blues (2003?) [for Karen]

Through Time and Space (2000) [Anniversary Gift for Jim]

Dorothy's 80th Birthday Quilt (1997)

Sunflower Wallhanging (20??) [with lots of Swarovski crystals]

Walk In The Woods (2008) [for Lawson because of Alaska!]

Blue Mountains and Meteors (2002?) [for David]  
This is just a small detail.  I can't find a bigger picture of this one.  But it's BLUE!

So, do you think I'm in a rut?  Old habits must die hard, because I recently purchase MORE blue fabric.  Maybe the best thing to do is go out, hit all my favorite quilt shops and buy anything and everything except blue.  Yeah, that's a plan I like!

I'll leave you with this lap quilt, although it's only partly blue.  When I put this one together I wasn't particularly interested in patriotic designs but I had the right fabric and it seemed like the right time.  I finished it on Flag Day 2001.  Not many weeks later we experienced the devastating losses on 9/11/2001 and the quilt took on a deeper meaning for me.  Since then I've made a couple things for Quilts of Valor; more on that great organization in a later post.

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 Quilt Block Lotto

I'm having so much fun right now with a short term project!  I volunteered to manage the GardenWeb Quilt Forum's block lottery this year.  We post a block or a color theme each month and anyone on the forum can enter 1, 2 or 3 blocks for 1, 2 or 3 chances to win.  At the end of the month we hold a drawing.  Winner takes all!  

I discovered it was more difficult than I expected it to be to choose blocks and colors that I thought might have the most appeal.  They need to be complex enough to be interesting and to make a pretty quilt, but simple enough not to scare off the beginners.  This is a great way to learn new blocks so it's wonderful for beginning quilters.  But it's also a fun way to try new things and use up some stash, so it's great for experienced quilters as well.   Even a small winning of just 12 blocks can make a lap quilt, a donation project or be the basis for a larger quilt.  Some months there can be well over 20 blocks in the pot!  A couple years ago I won a navy blue & white lotto; I turned it into one of my favorite quilts with yellow sashing and a yellow Minky backing.  And of course it reminds me of all my quilter friends on the forum.  Can you tell that I love the lotto?!? 

To get the process started this year I have pledged to the group that I'll make 3 blocks each month.  And to help get them all interested and excited about it, I've already made everything through July and posted the pictures on GardenWeb.  Industrious, aren't I?  Really, I'm having so much fun with it I can't stop!

January (any block, in red & white)

February ("Contrary Wife" in rich jewel tones)

March ("Amish Diamond")

April ("Bento Box" in black/white and a bright)

May ("Next Door Neighbor" in red, blue and beige)

 June ("Log Cabin" in warm neutrals)


July (any star in blues & yellows)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Wedding Quilt

My very wonderful niece Lisa found an equally wonderful man Michael and they were married in August 2010.  I was so happy for them and was proud to be able to make this quilt.  It's large enough to easily fit a king bed and done in neutral shades that I thought she would prefer.

I am normally drawn to saturated colors - jewel tones in particular - so working with creamy neutrals was a challenge!  But the more I looked at them the more I loved them.  The original inspiration for this quilt is one I saw long ago called White Chocolate; this is a much simpler design but I kept those shades in mind while picking out the fabric.

Long arm quilt artist Mary Beth quilted this one for me; as always, she did a beautiful job.
I had DH Jim with me when looking for the backing fabric and he pulled this one off the shelf:  perfect!  I need to take him fabric shopping more often!

This Jinny Beyer border print nicely complimented the fabrics and her borders are so much fun to miter!