Saturday, December 10, 2011

An End, and a Beginning

There are some dramatic changes coming my way over the next couple of months.

The end...
After five years as the owner of Dragonfly Quilt Shop, I will be closing the doors to the shop for the last time on December 17. It was a lifetime dream of mine to own a quilt shop and I am so thankful that the dream came true. The experience is one I will treasure forever, especially the many special people that came into my life.

The beginning...
I will be starting a full-time job in January. Let me just say that the job and the timing are nothing short of miraculous. At a time when so many people are struggling to find work, the perfect job came available at the perfect time.

With that said, I'll be ending this blog and moving to a new one. I hope you'll join me. All new entries will be posted over at Studio Dragonfly.

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Christmas Coasters

This is the first time I've been home the Saturday after Thanksgiving in several years. To celebrate, we invited a few family and friends over to decorate for the holidays. I made chili and fixings and there was the constant hum of college football in the background. It was a great day that certainly put me in even more of a holiday mood. After everything was out, one of the kids noticed that there were no holiday coasters. I took care of that right away.

I had some bright Michael Miller Christmas prints left over from another quilt top. There were lots of strips and some other scraps. I decided to make some funky strip coasters. I cut 5" squares of batting and backing fabric. There were enough different prints so that each of the eight coasters has a different back.

I then took all of the strips and sewed them together into one long piece. I did not measure them at all and didn't worry about whether they were straight or right side up.

I took my ruler to the strip set at any crazy angle I desired and cut 5" squares. I was able to get seven squares from the strip set. I had to piece the scraps to get the last one. It is shown in the upper right.

To sew them together, I put a batting square on the bottom, a backing square right side up, and a pieced strip square right side down. I sewed around three sides and half of the fourth side. I like to leave a fairly big opening to turn the coasters right side out. I get frustrated easily when things are hard to turn.

Once they were all turned right side out, I stitched once around the outside about an eighth of an inch from the edge to close the opening. After that, I experimented with quilting them. I tried quilting on either side of the strip seams and near just some of the strip seams. In the end, I decided that the extra quilting didn't add anything to the coasters and settled on an extra line of stitching around the outside edges, about a quarter inch from the first one.

This was a fast project that adds fun to our holiday decorations. There are just enough scraps left over for me to make a matching potholder!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mom's Cross Stitch

Many years ago, my mom passed along some of her cross stitch pieces to me. She had never framed them and didn't think she would ever invest in finishing them. I pulled them out the other day and decided that now is the time to finish them.

I'm planning a wall hanging that pairs each season with a complementary quilt block.

I enjoy paper piecing and haven't done any in a while so I pulled out a Carol Doak book, 50 Fabulous Paper Pieced Stars.

Each cross-stitch block is about 6" x 10". I'll downsize the stars to be six-inch blocks.

I decided that soft batiks would be a nice complement and make pretty stars.

This may become my mom's Christmas gift.

We'll see how much progress I make in the next week or two.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

BOM Top Finished

I really gain momentum as I get closer to finishing a project. Every step I finish leaves me energized for the next. Here is the finished quilt top for the Block of the Month quilt I've been working on.

One of my concerns was that this quilt was going to be too pink. It is not. The gold in the setting triangles tones down the pink just enough. Next step is to choose a back and send this one off to the quilter.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Carry It All Folio Class

The shop was all a buzz last Saturday as a fun group of gals made a Carry It All Folio with Mary Ann Mauney. I love this project and hope to make one for myself soon.

I wish I had taken a picture with all of them open. You can see from the one open on the table that there are some fun fabric options with the pockets on the inside. It is so easy to personalize these by changing up the pocket sizes and by adding embellishments to the outside. If you look closely, there's a beautiful felted wool bird on the outside of the green one second from the left.

I love a class where the students leave with a finished project. Everyone here left with plans to make more. Fun to make and fun to give!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

BOM Blocks Finished

It's just awesome how a little bit of dedicated sewing time can go such a long way. The last six blocks for next year's block of the month are complete!

My favorite one is the bottom right. Not only do I think it's pretty, but also because it is the last block I made. I had that happy "I can't believe it's the last block" feeling the whole time I was working on it.

I even had time to get the sashing, setting triangles, and borders cut. There are four more blocks to piece that are cornerstones for the border. My goal is to have this hanging in the shop after Thanksgiving. I think I'm going to make it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another lingering project

A couple of years ago, I came across these fat quarters and knew instantly who should have them.

I especially like the note "Lunch w/ Deb Tues 12:30." I should give that to all of my friends and have lunch dates for life! Okay, back to the project. I mailed the fat quarters to my friend John with a promise to turn them into something wonderful. Several times over the next year or so we talked about what to do with them. Message board? Mouse pad? Laptop case? He was never very excited about any of these. What to do? When all else fails, make a quilt.

I ransacked the stash and found some friends for the fat quarters. Since two fat quarters is all there was for the featured fabric, I went with a disappearing nine-patch. Simple and good for letting a small amount of fabric shine.

Since John's birthday is this week (Happy Birthday, John!), I let him see the work in progress. There are nine blocks and they haven't been sewn together. We decided that it needed a little something more. I'll be adding some black sashing between the blocks and then will figure out something for the borders.

I'm hoping this one will get finished before the end of the year.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

More BOM Progress - Blocks 5, 6, and 7

While a few side projects have slowed me down a bit, I made good progress this weekend on the block of the month sample I'm working on for next year. Here's block 5:

Block five is the only other block that uses templates and it is the most challenging so far. Accurate template cutting is a must and I cut mine in too big a hurry the first time around. Once I had all those flat flying geese units together, the rest went together fairly quickly. Block six and seven were a breeze after the challenge of block five.

Block seven may be my favorite so far. Its simple structure makes the star shine and I like the movement of the star and swirl fabrics together. This means I'm over half finished with the blocks. Some dedicated sewing time tomorrow should get this project closer to the finished line.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Danger of the Half Finished Gift

Last year I gave my mom a finished quilt for Christmas. I gave my mother-in-law an unfinished quilt (the top was complete) with a promise to return it finished before the next holiday season rolled around. Honestly, the only reason my mom got a finished quilt is because I sent it out to be quilted.

The panic started to set in this year when the calendar page turned to November. While it might be time to start thinking about gift giving, I still had commitments to finish from last year. This past weekend was devoted to finishing her quilt.

I spent many hours hunched over the machine quilting away. It is finally finished.

This is my favorite block today. I rejoice at the completion of this project.

And I have learned a valuable lesson. This year, the only gifts will be finished gifts.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

BOM Block 4 and a Distraction

Two of the blocks in this block of the month set use templates. This is one of them.

However, I dodged making templates and used the Tri-Rec ruler. There's nothing like the right tool for the right job. I love extra pointy star blocks.

With four blocks down, I started thinking about sashing and borders. I should keep making blocks but what about the sashing and borders? I wasn't going to be able to make another block until I figured this out. My mind's eye is terrible at remembering colors. I brought home every possibility I could find. You can sort of see them lined up between the blocks.

I really, really wanted that first Amy Butler print to work but the colors were just too different *sigh*. None of these really worked for sashing. They were all too busy and took away from the blocks. I finally gave up and took the blocks to the shop. After more auditioning than I want to admit, and a fresh eye from my friend Holley, here are the winners.

The solid will be the sashing, the gold will be cornerstones and setting triangles (yes, this baby is set on point!), and the green leaf print will be the border.

Now I can get back to making blocks!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fabric Covered Cork Boards

The sewing room is complete. One fun little project I added was some fabric covered cork boards on the end of one of the cube units.

It was easy enough to use two-sided fusible to attach yummy fabric to the cork squares. I used the sticky part from some 3m Command Hooks to attach the cork to the furniture. Now I'll have plenty of pretty to look at among my notes.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, November 4, 2011

BOM Block 2 and Block 3

Oh, I'm such a sucker. I made the first block for this block of the month and I was so happy that it went together quickly. I thought these blocks are going to be a piece of cake. I can make at least three each day. Right? Right... Silly me, I should know that projects such as this get more complex as it goes along.

Here's block 2...

and here's block 3.

I'm happy with the contrast in the blocks, and I like that the tone on tone prints allow you to really see the structure of the blocks. However, I usually go for wilder prints in my quilts so there may have to be some interesting action when this gets to the sashing and border stage. Three blocks down, ten to go!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New Block of the Month

A new block of the month will be introduced at the shop starting in January 2012. To prepare, I'm working on a complete quilt top to hang at the shop along with a second set of blocks and block parts to use for teaching the class. The entire quilt uses only five different fabrics. The blocks use three fabrics and the other two are sashing and border. The cover picture of the quilt does a good job illustrating the five fabric version so my sample is going to be made scrappy style.

Most of my stash is sorted by color, but a few special designers get their own bin. Nancy Halvorsen is one of those designers. She has been a staple in our shop from day one. With at least two fabric collections a year, I've built up a good assortment of her fabrics. Another advantage in going with this designer is that no matter how much time passes, or whether her collections lean toward brighter or more muted, they all work together.

The first step was to dump the bin and sort it all by color family. Then it was time for consultation. "Hey hon, if you could only choose three colors for a quilt, which three would you choose?" Red, green, and yellow were his choices.

I didn't want this to turn into a Christmas quilt, but those color choices were certainly leaning in that direction. Time to add more definition to this project. I sorted the chosen colors by value.

The yellow is definitely the light. To the right is green as medium, red as dark. To the left of yellow, pink is medium, green is dark. For this project, the left side won (I decided not to go for another consultation!). I'll choose a different fabric from each group for each block.

Here's the first block:

Only twelve more to go!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Holiday Sewing UFO Style

Pulled this cute project from the unfinished bin a couple of days ago. It's the perfect start to holiday sewing.

The pattern is Little Scraps Spring Garden by This & That Patterns. It uses a little more than one charm pack. I didn't read the pattern closely enough to realize it took more than one charm pack but it was easy enough to supplement from my stash. I caught myself humming holiday carols while sewing, which is a good sign for this season of sewing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just Cutting Scraps

It almost happened again. I was cutting scraps into usable sizes and I found another set of half-square triangles. It was really late at night and I was too tired to cut much more and too tired to sew, but not too tired to play. Here's what was left on the floor when I went to bed:

Oh, the temptation was great, but I didn't know what I would do with the finished pieces and I decided I'd rather have a bigger quilt. Everything was neatly stacked and kept together.

Whenever I get back to them, they're going to become an awesome quilt.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Scrappy Fabric Tree

Holley, a dear friend and awesome quilter/sewer/knitter/crafter, stopped by the shop with her latest creation. It is from a current magazine issue, but I can't remember which one. I took the picture to use as a reference for making my own, but I just couldn't resist sharing this cutie with you.

It is five fabric circles held together by a button sewn in the center. Toss them in the wash to get the frazzled edge effect. Pin them to a styrofoam base with dressmakers pins. Cute, cute, cute! Of course we started talking about all the other colors and shapes that these fabric circles could be applied to. Use a standard wreath shape, use a sphere to make an ornament, or use a heart for Valentine's Day. Go formal with silver or gold buttons, or make a winter version with blues and whites.

What a great use of scraps! This project is definitely going on my list of gifts to make this year.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Scrappy Bow Tie

One of my favorite things to do with down time in my sewing room is to cut scraps. It's like a walk down memory lane. How did I come to have this fabric? What project was it originally used for? It is very satisfying to take odd size fabric and make useful units for future projects. Very therapeutic.

With the recent sewing room clean out, I had discovered several small "special" bins of scraps. I really don't know why they were special, but they had garnered their very own bin. So I dumped one out and commenced with cutting. Quickly, I noticed they were very well color coordinated. I think I used this set to teach cutting techniques a few years back. After cutting a good stack of fabric, I started playing with them. Hey, this looks good as a block. Pretty soon, I had a rough layout for a quilt.

It was time to call in the family. What do you think? What should I change? Once the invitation is issued, anything goes with the arrangement. More random? Less random? What about these smaller squares? After a few iterations, it was time to get to sewing. All the while, I'm trying to figure out how I wrangled myself into making a quilt when all I planned to do was cut a few scraps.

Here's the finished top. Most of the half square triangles were already sewn in the bin. Sometimes it is fun to just work with what you have and make it happen.

This was NOT going to end up in the unfinished project pile. I stuck with simple quilting. It is all straight lines about a half inch inside the bigger blocks and in the ditch around the border rows. A dark brown binding finishes it off. I was all set to do scrappy brown binding, but found a piece big enough to do the job.

Whew! I didn't know I needed to get a quilt out of my system. Now, maybe, I can get back to scrap cutting for a while.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Post Show Thoughts

With a full day of vending under my belt, it was time to revamp the booth. While I didn't officially have a prime corner booth, it just so happened that there was a pass through on one side of me. All it took was a little push of the curtains, the addition of a few signs and, voila!, a corner booth.

This really helped with traffic flow and seemed to increase sales a bit. The show ended on Saturday evening. The end of the show was the one time I was happy to have one of the smaller booths and less stuff. We had it taken down and packed in an hour. While I enjoyed the entire experience, my body needed a break. I slept twelve hours Saturday night.

What I like most about vending is the short time frame of setup, show, and take down. It's intense while it's happening, but then there's a nice break once it is over.

What I didn't like about it is the lack of relationship building. I love all my customers. I love helping people decide on and put together a project. I love being able to call you by name when you walk through the door. And I love that there's time to get to know your quilting vibe. I mentioned this to one of the veteran vendors and she told me that instead of a relationship with customers, the relationship centers on other vendors. A lot of the folks I met had toured the country together vending at this show or that throughout the year. I'm not sure if that is an adequate substitute, but certainly better than no relationships at all.

Will I do it again? Probably. I'll at least be pondering the possibilities.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Show Set Up and Day 1

Today was the first day of the Georgia Quilt Show. Yesterday was set up day, which I left in the hands of two wonderful fellows. They took the booth from this:

to this in a matter of a few hours.

They did an awesome job. There are a couple of things to note about this booth. First, I thought I was getting a 6x10 booth. About two weeks ago, I learned I was getting a 10x10 booth which is a great thing, just difficult to fill on short notice. Also, I thought the side walls were going to be three feet tall rather than the full eight feet tall so I didn't have anything to hang on them. We added one more quilt and some signs right before the show started to help them look less blank, and I'll know to have extras and backups next time around. Here's another picture of the booth that makes it look quite full.

And here's what I spent most of the day doing:

I am demonstrating our no sew fusible coasters to show how all of our no sew fusible products are made (fast and easy!). As you can see, there were lots of interested passers by.

I've had a few minutes to meet my neighbors who are all very encouraging. My next door neighbor is Pam from NH Quilter's Emporium. She's been doing shows like this for a long time. Her cash register is just on the other side of the curtain from my demo station. She gets to listen to my demonstrations all day long. A few times, she's leaned over and offered tidbits to polish up my presentation. They've been good tips, too.

The show continues on Friday from 10am-6pm and Saturday from 10am-5:30pm. If you're able to attend, stop by booth 129 and say hello.