Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Friday, December 30, 2011

My Quilt Year in Review

Most people are writing and commenting about how quickly the year sped by.  It was a difficult year for us and couldn't go by quickly enough, so now that it is over we are relieved. 

While I didn't "officially" participate in any of the "11 in 11" challenges, I'm proud to say that I fininshed more than 11 quilts this year.

1.  My version of our guild's challenge quilt.  It is hand-quilted!  It wasn't my style fabrics, but it was lots of fun to play with something different.

2.  I made this little guy for my Mom who donoted it to a fundraising auction

This is my husband who left March 20th for Afghanistan.  That is why the year was difficult and seemed to drag.
3.  Oh My Gosh Quilt.  It is off being quilted, but I counted it as done since I gave it to the quilter this year. 

4.  My Thimbleberries version of Eldon (a Laundrybasket Quilts pattern)  After completing this, I am now quite experienced at Y seams.

5.  My Peekaboo quilt for a boy.  You see the effect in the bottom picture where the flaps open to reveal hidden "pictures" inside.

6.  My version of Roll Roll Cotton Bole (A mystery by Bonnie Hunter.)  I did an Americana color scheme and I love how it turned out.  However, there are so many little pieces (a look I LOVE) that the quilt if fairly heavy and I can't sleep under it here in Hawaii.

7.  Granny Squares from the cover of an American Patchwork and Quilting magazine.  Fun but lots of bias seams to deal with!

8.  Alex's Quilt which I finished back in June and "put away" for Christmas and then totally forgot to include it--but that was lucky as that box of presents got way delayed--so much that I thought it was lost--but luckily it showed up after Christmas.  It will hopefully go to the post office today.

9.-12.  Four different Aloha Quilts made from the fabric and free pattern by Jennifer Chiaverini.  I made one for me, one I donated to a fundraising auction (it made $225!), and two left over for gifts.

13.  The girl Peekaboo quilt.  Both of them have no designated purpose.  I thought I needed a baby quilt for a gift but then I didn't.  I will put them away for now.

Not numbered because they aren't a quilt, but I did make these three pieces--bags for laptop, purse, traveling, etc.  The patterns are ByAnnie and really fun to make!

14.  The Palm Circle Quilt which I made from a Miss Rosie pattern (with a palm tree in the corner instead of a star.)  This quilt is donated to a charitable group for fundraising purposes.

September 23--My husband got home safe!!!!  The BEST day of the year.  (And FYI, the quilts are put in roughly chronological order so you can see that I spent my time alone quilting!)

15.  Lastly, my daughter's Cake Walk quilt.

I think I got a lot done even though I had a month's staycation in January when I spent time sightseeing with my parents here in Hawaii, and then another 2-3 week staycation when my husband got home.  Plus, I spent a nearly a month on the mainland this summer.

What will 2012 bring?  Can I do 12 in 12?  I have no idea, but I do know it will probably be a moving year, so that will take out at least 1-2 months where I won't have a machine.  (Normally I take Bernie with me in the car when we move, but that isn't possible going to or from Hawaii.)  I think I need a good applique project for the year.  I have one in mind, as a matter of fact.  More on that later.

Aloha and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

At last--the reveal!

I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday!  We had a very nice Mele Kalikimaka as we say here in Hawaii.  It was quite different in that it was our first celebrating without our daughter, who is in Indiana and had to work and we just couldn't bear to undertake holiday travel this year.  Now that she has opened her presents, I can finally share the quilt that I "teased" you with in my last post.
 It is the pattern "Cake Walk" by Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet.
 I purchased the pattern and a layer cake of the Sew Cherry fabrics that are used in the sample quilt last fall.  It was really an easy but fun pattern to put together.  My biggest challenge was that I'm not a big sewer of white fabric, so I had to buy some white thread and pay attention to pressing, etc. so none of the bright colors "bled" through from behind the white to shadow.

But, as you saw in my previous post, the most fun I had was with the quilting!  Playing with patterns other than my "go-to" meander has really opened me up for more exciting free motion.   Again, all these patterns I learned from Leah at her Freemotion Quilt Project blog.  Thanks Leah!

Here are some detailed photos:

I copied the quilting ideas on the cake stands from the pattern photo. I love how this quilting makes the cake stand look more realistic.

There was a bit of applique, which could easily be done by fusing, but I needle-turned because I love needle turning.

The cakes were trimmed in ric rac, and there was ric rac around the perimeter, under the binding.  Don't you just love ric rac?  It makes me happy!

I think I neglected to mention that I made this quilt for her because she decorates cakes for a living. 


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Out of Thread!

Ugh!  I was quilting away yesterday and ran out of thread.  It wasn't a surprise to me, when I started quilting this project back on Saturday, I thought I wouldn't have enough thread so I ordered more.  It would have been so convenient if when I ran out around 2, I could have skipped down to the mailbox and discovered the package from Superior Threads that I ordered over the weekend, containing more thread, but no such luck!

Instead, I worked on a different holiday project and got the tree decorated, but I really hated to abandon my machine quilting when I was in such a groove.  Normally, when I machine quilt (and it is only projects lap-sized or smaller) I simply meaner over the whole thing and call it done.  Most of my quilts tend to be scrappy and so there is a lot going on on the quilt top, so the meander is good.  However, on my current project, I didn't think it would work.

I would love to show a photo of the quilt, but it will have to wait until after Christmas, because I really want it to stay a surprise, but I will show a picture of some of the quilting I''m doing.

I learned the pattern from Leah over at The Freemotion Quilting Project and if you haven't checked out her blog, complete with awesome how-to videos, you should!  I have to say that I'm really pleased and somewhat impressed with myself.  I think I'm gaining the confidence to move away from the "safe" meander and work on developing new skills. 

I'm really hoping that package comes today!


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bag Lady

Our daughter is coming to visit this week!  We are very excited.  She asked me if I could make her a holder for plastic grocery bags and I was only too happy to oblige.  I had made my own years ago, and it is purely purposeful, not pretty. (Sorry, but at times I really enjoy alliteration).  Instead of duplicating it, I went off hunting for some other ideas.  I found this idea page featuring 20 ways to make a bag holder.  I went with this one because I liked the open top.  I did look at the one by Moda Bakeshop, but I had yardage to use, not charm squares, but I'm going to keep it in mind, because as I mentioned, mine is merely mundane...

Our daughter is a cake decorator in a bakery and since cupcakes are really popular right now, not to mention cute and tasty, AND that she is decorating her kitchen with a cupcake theme, I decided to go with cupcake fabric.  I also had some scrap ric rac, so I used that to embellish as well.  Here is the result:
The only thing is this baby is huge!  It is going to hold tons of bags.  Here is a photo of the details at the top.
I really liked how the pattern used grommets on each side and a self made tie.  It is also open at the top to make it easier to stuff the bags inside.  The quilting makes it stiff enough to stay open. 

It was a fun project that took practically no time--maybe a hour.  I had to run to the store in the middle because (and I was shocked here) in all my room full of quilting/sewing stuff the only elastic I could come up with was really narrow or too fat.  Don't you hate when you think you are doing an easy project but something stymies you?  I do.  Of course, I spent another half hour looking through all my other drawers, even though I knew full well that my elastic was only in one place.  I just couldn't believe I didn't have any.  I actually thought I might have to make a trip for the grommets or else just sew the handle on the bag, but low and behold, while I was looking for elastic, I found grommets!

Let me tell you about the fabric shop.  Here in Hawaii we don't have a Joann's.  Or a Hancocks.  Or a Cloth World.  I suppose that the locals are glad that their fabric/craft options are still owned by locals, but you just cannot underestimate the value of a gigantic notions dept.  Our store has very few notions, especially thread, zippers, etc.  Now I only needed elastic, so I didn't have a problem, but one lady was looking for an 18" invisible black zipper and they were out.  I was trying to be helpful and suggest alternatives, but she was frustrated which made her downright hostile.  I felt bad for her because she was stuck.  Other than going across the island to another of the shops (there are 3) she was out of luck.    So, the next question is this:  Can a quilter/sewer go into a fabric shop and ONLY buy the hank of elastic that is required?  If you can, you have a lot more self-discipline than I do!  I found a really neat piece of ribbon that exactly matches a project I'm working on so I got some of that, and another hank of elastic, because I really couldn't believe I was down to so little, and one or two more things.

I got home again and before I finished the bag holder, I set the ribbon to soak in the sink, because it is some really rigid ribbon.  (Alliteration again.)


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'm Back!

I know it has been forever since I last blogged.  I have been busy playing in my quilt room, but it is getting to be that time of year when things are being made for holiday gifts and I don't want anything secret to leak out!

The best thing that has happened since I last wrote was that my husband made it home from Afghanistan!!  And even a week early!!  That NEVER happens in Army life, so I wasn't getting too excited until he was on the final flight.  He has been home for almost 2 weeks now and we are having fun relaxing on the beach, snorkeling, etc.  It is a really nice time to be living in Hawaii.  All he has to do is be on leave and it's like we are on vacation!

I do have one project to share with you.  I'm the member of a non-profit organization that raises money for scholarships and financial contributions to local organizations that support the military.  One of our fund-raisers this year is to have a home tour of the historic homes on our army post.  The homes are situated on Palm Circle, the parade field which gets its name from the large, magnificent palm trees that line the perimeter.  At one of our board meetings, I got the idea to make a quilt and apply for permission to have it be an "opportunity" prize--what used to be referred to a raffle, but now is run a bit differently due to legal issues.

As I sorted through my piles of patterns and books, looking for inspiration, I didn't even have to dig very deep at all before I ran across this pattern:
 Cracked Pots by Miss Rosie.  I love house block quilts and it seemed like it would be very appropriate for a quilt representing a historic home tour.    In fact, the houses look like this:
so they are really pretty close to the house blocks in the quilt.  The only thing is that the color placement needed to be altered. 

Here is a photo of the homes from across the parade field:
I am really sorry about how washed-out these pictures are.  My Rebel must be on the wrong setting.  At any rate, you can see the magnificent palm trees and the green grass.  I wish the sky was blue as it usually is here, but it was raining and there was actually a pretty nice rainbow when I was taking these photos.  I really wanted to capture the greens of Hawaii and the blue of the sky, so I shopped for those colors.  Since the houses were white, I decided to make them white with a blue background.  Did you notice the pieced triangular border in the quilt?  If I made it green, it would really remind me of the mountains here on O'ahu.  If you've never been visited, this is what they look like.

The last detail that needed attending was the corner blocks that joined the house rows.  In the pattern they are stars, but my quilt is representing  Palm Circle, so I wanted them to be palm trees.  I searched on the internet and found a free palm tree block.  You can find it here.  The problem was that I needed the palm tree to be "on point" so that it created a circle effect.  I used the free pattern as my inspiration and drafted a block with the palm tree on point.  Here is the result:

The whole quilt came out looking just like I wanted it to.  Here is the whole thing:

The only problem I ran into was that I initially made the windows out of a creamy yellow, and they did not show up from across the room.  By the time I figured that out, I had finished the whole top, and the easiest way to fix the problem was to machine applique different windows on top of the originals.

Here is the corner detail again:

Do you see the thin strip of medium blue running around the bottom of the "mountain" border?  When I laid out the borders, I did not like how the tops of the palm trees were "bleeding" into the mountains, and my solution was to cut one-inch strips of the blue, fold them in half, and slip them in between the mountain border and house border like a piping.  I was really pleased with the definition it created without it creating any need to resize anything.

Now all that is needed is to get it quilted and seek approval to have an Opportunity Quilt.  If you think I took a big gamble by making it first, there are no worries.  More than one resident of Palm Circle has already asked if I can make any more.

One more thing.  I've been visiting everyone's blogs but am running into problems posting comments.  I'm getting the "you don't have permission to post" or whatever that error message is and I've seen the solution:  to completely log out of Blogger, but I haven't yet done that.  I'm hoping they fix the problem with an easier solution.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who Needs Vera?

To begin this post, we must travel back in time to the last week of June.  I was getting ready to go to Quilt Hawaii and just after that was over, I flew to the mainland for three weeks.  As I was running around getting things ready I decided I wanted a different computer bag for traveling.  We have a large-ish black bag that has wheels, but I didn't want to drag that around.  I also wanted something with some pockets to hold my Kindle, ipod pouch, and a small purse, so I only had to carry one thing.  Oh, and it should be cute--not just another black bag.  Apparently I was asking for a lot.

So I shopped.  I found a Vera Bradley bag that I sort of liked, bought, brought it home and discovered my computer wouldn't fit, and returned it.  I squandered hours I did not have to find a bag.  Finally my friend Sandra loaned me hers so the pressure was off.

Then I went to Quilt Hawaii and took the Superior Threads School of Threadology.  One of the instructors was Annie and she has many patterns for bags, including this one:

This is for a "Carry All" as well as a slimmer case just for the laptop.  I also found this pattern:
For a small cellphone wallet--perfect for just the necessities you need when you travel (phone, ID, credit card, carmex.)  Maybe you think carmex is not necessary, but I do!!!

What is really spectacular about Annie is that she also sells the "finishing kits" containing all the hardware you may need for each pattern.  Please check out her website here.  At any rate, I bought both patterns and finishing kits and fabric for the projects was on my list for shopping on the mainland.  

I must say that finding a fabric/fabric line that I really liked and that would go with the black hardware was sort of tricky.  Or it could be that I was having committment issues, but it was a struggle.  Finally, I found something that was okay.  I thought it felt a little "Vera Bradley-like" but I still got it, mostly because it was red which is my favorite color.  When I got home, I put the stuff in a pile of my USOs (Unstarted objects.)  You may remember from last week, that I made the cute humpback whale quilts.  I started wondering if I could incorporate one or two into the bags.  I pulled fabric, paid a little visit to The Fat Quarter Shop to order some more and Ta Da!  I came up with these:

Annie's patterns are very detailed and well written, but if you just skim through them, it looks confusing.  However, if you cut and label everything and then just take it one step at a time, you will have success.

Here is the carry-all/tote
Above is the back.  You can see that there are short carry handles, and a long one, which can be removed.   The horizontal strap is attached so that it can slide over the handle of your suitcase, if desired.  Can you believe that whale batik I found?  It was just the perfect color and pattern!
Here is the front view.  You can sort of see the small side pockets and then the front has a zipper pocket and behind the zipper pocket is another one.  Inside is another large zippered pocket and a divided set of pockets.  Lots of places to tuck things.

This is the front of the smaller laptop case.  I measured my laptop and cut the front and back down so it custom-fits my laptop.  I'm kind of a freak about things fitting in the space they are designed for.  Anyway, the front features a zippered side pocket.
The back was free of pockets, though, and so nicely showcases my quilt.    It will also be tucked into the carryall, so I don't have to worry about it getting too dirty.  I'm also sort of freaky about having things that match, so I made the small phone wallet to coordinate.
Here is the "back" with a clear pocket for an ID, etc.
And here is the "front" with a pouch and flap for tucking a phone or camera.
Inside you can see the slots for credit cards.  I added the zippered inside pocket all on my own, and it was pretty easy because of all the zipper instructions on the patterns. 

These projects came out so neat!  Do you ever make something that comes out so cool that you can't believe you made it?  I'm so excited!  Now I want to travel again, so I can use them!  Again, I can't say enough about Annie's patterns, and I still have some more, so be watching for more projects in the future.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Playing with the Fishes

I'm back home, and have been for a week now.  That is how long it takes me to feel like I have my feet under me again.  I swear, it was worse this time.  I was really struggling with "daily routines" like remembering the fabric softener in the laundry and turning onto the correct road for where I was headed.  Good grief!

I did have some big fun this week, though.  Take a look at these--I know they aren't "fishes"--whales are mammals, but you will see later why I titled this blog "Playing with the Fishes."

These were so much fun to make!  Once I figured out which fabric was going where, it was just as easy to make 4 as it was to make 1-2.  The two on the left are actually my "extras" that I may use for gifts, etc.  The two on the right are without borders right now as I am waiting on some different fabric.  I'm planning to use them as the front and back of a tote bag. 

The pattern is called "Humpbacks" and is designed by Castilleja Cotton and available from Quilt Passions on the Big Island of Hawaii.  They are a featured shop in the current (summer) issue of Quilt Sampler.  I was lucky enough to visit earlier this summer and it is a fun shop.  It finished about 20" x 14" and I easily got these all done to this stage in a morning.

That was how I spent my Tuesday.  On Wednesday of this week, three of my fellow girl friends and I went snorkeling on the North Shore.  It was lots of fun, and I got some great photos.  I particularly like this one:
That is a parrot fish "smiling" for the camera.  His teeth look a bit scary, but they don't really bite people.  Parrot fish bite off chunks of coral (you can really hear them crunching under water) and then they digest it and eliminate it in the form of beautiful, white sand.  Yes folks, those gorgeous white sandy beaches are really parrotfish poo.    The brightly colored fish is a Christmas Wrasse.  I think they have a symbiotic relationship with the parrotfish because they are frequently paired up.

The remainder of my week was spent with making and then attending appointments.  It really bugs me how much time something like a doctor's appointment takes when you factor in the phone calls, the driving and parking, the paperwork, the waiting, and finally the 5 minutes you actually spend with the doctor.

Yesterday I started a large, slightly complex quilt and I'm looking forward to seeing it come together.  Between shopping at Quilt Hawaii and visiting quilt shops on the mainland, and my pile from the Big Island, and the stack from the last time I was on the mainland, I have more things to do.  Forget about UFOs.  I have USOs (Unstarted objects.)  I'm looking forward to spending some serious time in my quilt room!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vacation from Hawaii

Yep, that isn't a misprint.  As you may have been able to tell, I'm on vacation.  At least until tomorrow.  I left home on July 4, so I'm ready to be back home.  I think it is funny that when you live in Hawaii, your idea of a great vacation seems rather dull to others.  I have been in SW Michigan, at my parents'; in Indiana to see my daughter and sister and neice and new brother-in-law, and step-neice; and down to Alabama to visit with a good quilting/army friend.

My parents picked me up at Chicago's O'Hare after an overnight (sort of) flight.  It was only 12:30 AM my time, so it was a really short night.  I had a bit of a nap and then we went to the beach:
No, it isn't the ocean, it is Lake Michigan.   What I really couldn't get enough of here were the lush greens and the gorgeous flowers, especially the hydrangeas.  They were just splendid.

I took more photos of them, but I think this is a good sample.  Of course, it isn't SW Michigan without lighthouses.
This is the St. Joseph Lighthouse, where my parents live.
"Big Red" in Holland, Michigan
And South Haven at sunset.

I did go to Shipshewana, twice.  I saved room for the pie the first time, boy was it good, best of all, I think I figured out how to recreate it!  I did some fun fabric shopping, of course, and then my mom directed me upstairs to a neat shop with Americana decorations, and treen (for which I have a weakness.)  I was going to be "good" and walk away, but the shop owner told me the treen was 20% off.  So I caved in.  It wasn't difficult.  Then I was looking at a patriotic sampler, and he came by and said that stuff was 30% off.  So now I have shipped a total of 7 packages home!  It isn't all Shipshewana purchases, though.  I also made it to JoAnn Fabrics 5 different times.  (To three different stores)  I feel like one of those people who live in remote areas and only get into "civilization" once or twice a year and have to shop for the whole time until the next visit.  Oh, wait..  LOL

Anyway, it has been such a great visit, and best of all, it ate up nearly a month of waiting time until my husband is back from Afghanistan.  I'm planning on going home and diving into all my new projects and hopefully, the rest of the time will fly by.