Monday, April 27, 2015

How to Rip a Seam FAST!

Several months ago I learned a life changing sewing truth. Life changing in the event that it's a real time saver for those of us who love to sew. I've been using this technique since then, and after the conclusion of my trial period I am happy...oh, sew very happy to endorse this method of seam ripping.

I couldn't wait to share what I learned, so my hubby agreed to man the cell phone video camera while I demonstrated and chatted about the technique. Is this video perfect...not really, but it gets the information across and as I like to think...if this video helps even one frustrated person who loves to sew but hates to rip...then I have succeeded in my attempt! We may upgrade it at some point, but for now here is our best attempt to spread the word to my wonderful blog followers.

I hope you all think this is as cool as I do. Next time you use this technique think of me and have a ripping good time!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Modern Quilts, More on Leaders & Enders, and Some Beautiful Quilts

Modern Quilts...Yay or Nay?
I've recently come out of my traditional quilt closet and announced that, "I'm really starting to like modern quilts." Last year at the International Quilt Festival in Rosemont I stuck my toes in the shallow end of the modern quilt pool when I bought my first modern quilt pattern. I have since kicked my butt around the block six ways from Sunday for not buying the whole kit that included the perfect yummy modern fabric to go with the pattern. But as we know, change can start with little steps so maybe simply by owning the pattern and studying fabrics that might work with it has been part of my learning process.

Here is the pattern. It's called Party of Four. It consists of four patches with floral-ish and geometric-y fabric broken up with a 1/2 inch grid of white. When I purchased the pattern I thought I would use my beloved 30s repro fabric...boom, slam dunk, done! It didn't take long after I got home that buyers remorse had set in and I wished I would have bought the whole kit. By the time I got around to investigating whether I could purchase the fabric part of the was too late...all gone...poof!

Pattern of my first venture into modern quilts purchased from Modern QuiltStudio

So the search was on. While I was vending in Decatur last week I found some modern-ish fabric that I was pleased with. Thanks to Gretchen at Main Street Quilt Company in Shelbyville, Illinois, for helping me pick out the fabrics in the photo below (Note: My lighting was poor when I shot this photo and the colors are off quite a bit, but trust me...they look great!).

So this year when I was at the International Quilt Festival at Rosemont my friend Sandy and I bought the same pattern AND fabric...yeppers, I got the whole kit this time. I'm a fast learner in a slow kind of way!!
Photo taken at Rosemont. The pattern is called Quiet on the Set and is also by Modern QuiltStudio.
More on Leaders and Enders
Last time I posted I said that I would be showing you some photos to hopefully clarify my clumsy description of a leader and ender project. Well, you can stop holding your breath because the anticipation is they are!

The peachy-pink square is my leader. Following the leader are two squares on which I sewed a corner piece. With the second piece still under the pressure/walking foot I picked up two squares that needed to be sewn together for a black and red quilt that I'm also making (this will be a "bonus" block). I ran them through the machine and finished with my ender piece. I can now clip the thread between the red-black square and my yellow ender turns into a leader...ready and in position for the next piece(s) that need sewing. Pretty cool, huh? and I have one more block sewn for the black and red...even more cool! Every little bit helps.

Sit back and enjoy this small sampling of pictures from the Decatur Quilters Guild Quilt Show, Quiltfest 2015, last weekend.

Overview of part of the vendor area. The beautiful quilts on the railing were there to dress up the arena...they were not part of the quilt show itself.
An interesting twist on a selvage quilt
This was an eye-catching quilt. I loved it!
I found the blue background a very nice touch on this Double Irish Chain.
Speaking of Modern Quilts--this one was wonderful.
An antique beauty
I NEED this pattern...I sew want to make this quilt!
Detail of above quilt
There were so many wonderful quilts at the Decatur show that it's a shame I could only show a few. I hope you enjoyed my choices.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

My Brain's Been Busy!

I often wonder if other quilters struggle with 'idea overload' and that they also have sew many creative ideas pinging through their brain day and night like a crazy pinball marble. After my third book Threads of Friendship: Marge and Beth was published in February, I immediately started to mentally plan what Nedra and Lettie will be doing in Book 4. It was within weeks of the book's release that I attended my own DIY Retreat (when I couldn't attend my beloved B.A.Q.S. Retreat), and then the International Quilt Festival happened less than an hour from my house! Needless to say the creative juices are oozing and I'm loving every minute of it, so I thought I'd share...

Quilt(s) I'm Working On

I've gotta be honest, I work on several (many) quilts tops at a time, but this is the one I'm determined to finish before I start've heard that one before haven't you?
It's hard to see in this picture, but the corner of my latest quilt is hanging from my NEW FLANNEL WALL!! I'm so darn excited about having my very own flannel wall. Bob and I made it with foam core, a flannel sheet, double-stick and duct tape...easy-peasy. It goes all the way to the floor and I simply have to whisk away that table to have more space.

I fell in love with the quilt when I saw it at a vendor booth at a guild show about three years ago (see below). I bought the pattern and specialty rulers. The name of the quilt is Maddie Bea's.
This was the example of the haunted me until I bought the pattern.

FYI and BTW: I'm working on this post from Decatur, Illinois, where I'll be selling and signing my Bunco Club Series at Quiltfest 2015, put on by the Decatur Quilters Guild. Tomorrow morning, Thursday, I'll set up my booth and the show is Friday-Saturday, April 10-11. When I left home in Chicago 'burbs this afternoon it was 51 degrees. When I got to Decatur it was 75 degrees and my son said it was 39 in the city! WOW--what a difference!
I'm pretty proud of my organization! Books 1, 2, and 3, boxed up and ready for the trip south.

Off to the Long Arm Quilter
So you all remember the humongous 30's repro quilt that I finished at my DIY Retreat, right? Well in case you don't remember, this is it:
I packaged it up along with the quilt below and mailed them to the very creative and talented long-armer, Heather, in Michigan. Can't wait to get them back =)
I made the wine/grape quilt for my brother, Bob, for helping me with Threads of Friendship. Bob has been a sounding board for me for all three books. He's an avid reader with creative ideas and along with his wife, Liz, like this quilt seemed more than appropriate. I told him he had to share the quilt with Liz!

My Take on Leaders and Enders
My take is that I simply LOVE them. Since I've been using the technique, I haven't made one bird's nest or had my thread dive into the underworld of the face plate where the needle gets stuck and the threads get wonky. I think I started using leaders and enders about a year ago. At first is seemed awkward and I didn't always remember to do it. I also wondered if it was really worth it...and then, WHAM, I got it and I can't sew without them now!
Leader -- Ender
I like to use the same pieces over and over. I even trim them down just a smidgen until they are ridiculously full of threads.
Okay, so I am ready for the next step and I'm jonesing to do a Leader/Ender quilt. I only recently figured out what that meant and I have the perfect quilt semi-cut out and ready to go...lots of 2x2" squares! It's like getting two quilt tops finished for the price of one (time-wise) ... well, not really 2 for 1, but a darn good start on another top.

If this sounds like a foreign language to you, I understand completely. I was confused at first, too. REAL QUICK: A leader is a small scrap that you stitch before you start your 1/4" seam. You can sew one seam or chain a whole batch, and when you get to the end, you do the same thing with another scrap, called the ender. One of the nicest things it accomplishes is a more perfect 1/4" seam at the beginnings and ends where the needle tends to wander a little causing fatter or narrower seams than desired.

Once you get used to this process and into it, you can then pickup two pieces that need to be sewn together for another quilt and use them for your leaders/enders! I plan to keep using my scraps for leaders, chain on a square for quilt #2, then chain or sew my seams for quilt #1, then sew off with another square for #2, then my scrappy ender.

If this is confusing I apologize! I'll take more pictures when I get home and try to be more clear!

YAWN! I'm pretty pooped right now and have to get up early tomorrow (by Karen standards) to set up my booth. So I'm off to bed and I'll finish this after my setup.
Thursday evening: Setup successful and complete!
Quiltfest 2015 is at the Decatur Civic/Sports Center. It's quite a large arena and I have an exceptionally good size booth. From what I've seen, the quality of the exhibited quilts is breathtaking.

Last week I was a guest speaker at the Norther Lake County Quilt Guild. My Bro and SIL helped me. Here are a few photos he snapped...

Tomorrow is another early day for me and the first day of the Quiltfest so I'm going to tuck in early tonight. Thanks for looking and get out there and have a Quilty day!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

My Review of Rosemont...Better Late Than Never!

International Quilt Festival -- a.k.a. Rosemont 2015

The Red & White Exhibit at the Quilt Festival was probably the most powerful quilt installation I have ever seen. The unexpected towering height, coupled with the repetitive red and white colors, and the drama of a black ceiling made for a total environmental experience.


My peeps, Sandy (orange scarf), Glenna (purple top), and I with Mary (far left) from Custom Quilts Unlimited, Fennville, Michigan.
Sew proud of my friend Kathy Mathews whose quilt was selected to be shown in the exhibit. Kathy is an exceptional quilter with a great sense of humor.  Check out Kathy's Blog at

Detail of exquisite quilting
Two "Dear Jane" Quilts. Both uniquely wonderful!

My recent gout attack had left me wondering how in the world I was going to walk through the show for hours upon hours. A transport wheelchair was just the ticket! Between intermittently walking behind it holding on for balance (and dear life!) and my two good buds willing to push me most of the day, I was thankfully able to see the whole show!
Goodbye Rosemont...till Next Year
Loaded down and heading home! I don't know how Sandy was able to push me AND a good portion of our purchases (tote bags hooked over the handles) down that long and winding passageway.
As always, the Rosemont show did not disappoint. Over a week later I'm still basking in the magical experience and the fun memories I made with two good friends who were willing to help me out.  Thanks Sandy and Glenna...I truly could not have done this without the two of you.