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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Retreat Day Two

Hi Everyone,

I'm back with more about our retreat.  If you follow me on Instagram, this is old news to you, although I am trying to share more pictures here.

Day two was last Friday.  The morning began on the most wonderful note, despite the fact that we didn't have the furnace on at our cottage and spent a very cold night.  When we arrived over at the activities building (where our sewing was going on) my first task was to trim up all of the string pieces I had finished the day before.  This meant squaring them up and in the case of the 5.5" squares, I needed to cut them in half diagonally and I needed to cut all of the 16 8.5 x 11" sheets into 3 8.5 x 3.5" rectangles.  Several of the ladies had been interested in the process the day before and I explained it, so I jokingly offered to let them attempt to remove the paper foundation to see how easy it is to do if you used a large needle and set the stitch length very small.  The next few minutes were magical.  About six or so of the ladies gathered around the cutting table, and as quickly as I could do the trimming, they all pulled out every bit of the paper!!  That would have taken me at least an hour, if not 2 or 3!  While we were working, we were visiting and discussing our night, etc. Honestly, it was one of the best quilting moments ever for me--quilters are so nice and the act of quilting in a group situation has so many blessings.

It doesn't look like much, but this is the result of all that work--my stacks of string piecing bits.

With that finished, the next thing I did was change my machine needle!  What a huge difference that made! My plan for Talkin' Turkey on day 2 was to tackle the flying geese.  I believe I needed 456 total geese.  Two hundred and a few (I can't remember the exact number right off) necessary for the blocks, required cream-colored "geese" with red "sky" and the other 200+ (needed for the border) were the opposite:  red "geese" with cream "sky."

I got right to work, drawing the lines diagonally across the squares cut for the sky. I had done all of the cutting for this quilt back in January and didn't think to alter any of the cutting to allow for my favorite way to make geese:  with Monique Dillard's "Fit to be Geese" ruler.  The book instructs you to make the geese with what I call the "heart" method.  It is where you use one big square with 4 smaller squares and then you get 4 finished geese units.  At one point, the units look like hearts:  hence my nickname.  If you are confused, you can see a tutorial for the method here.  When we had the class on Talkin' Turkey with Bonnie Hunter, she shared 2-3 methods of making geese and some of the other attendees share a few more.  What is your favorite method?

I like using the Fit to Be Geese ruler but it requires you to cut a bit larger so that you can "square up" the units resulting in perfect flying geese every time.  Since I hadn't cut that way, I did figure out that if I used a really scant 1/4" seam allowance, I could still use the ruler to square up the small amount I needed.  I ended up tossing a couple of the really wonky ones, but all-in-all, I was quite pleased.

One of the other ladies had the BlocLoc flying geese ruler the exact size that I needed, so I borrowed it from her and I showed the group how to use both of them.  I love Monique's rulers because have the original and the mini ruler allow you to do almost every size of geese.  The blocloc rulers are only for one particular size, but it was easier to use--there is a channel underneath the ruler that "locks" it into place on the seam.  I needed much less downward force to hold the ruler in place as I trimmed.   Blocloc rulers are expensive though--I looked them up and the one I would need for this size:  1.5" x 3" finished was $18!

I was still trimming the first half of the 200 or so geese that I needed for the blocks when it was lunchtime.  We went to our friends' cottage.  There are 4 days at the retreat, and so 4 of us go together and each make one lunch for all 4.  It works great as we get much better lunches than if we all brought our own, and it is easy, too.  We decided during lunch to take a bit of a "field trip" into town to visit some antique shops.

At the first one, I was sorely tempted by this red painted firkin.

I thought the price was okay and even texted a picture to my husband to get his opinion.  He didn't reply, though, until after we left the shop.  I am just having a difficult time buying anything when our lives are in such limbo with not knowing where we are going to end up in a few months!

None of us bought anything in that shop, but it was fun to look.  We had parked by a typical small-town drug store and it looked like it had some fun gift items in the window, so we wandered in to look around.  I went around the corner and found this:

An original 1930s era soda fountain!!!  Isn't it fun with those "bump out" counters?  I showed the others and even though we were still fairly full from lunch, nothing would do but to have some sort of treat there, right?  I totally wanted a chocolate ice cream soda, and Linda also had one.  Janice got a root beer float, and Lorna had an ice cream cone.  The employees were so sweet and took pictures of us with all of our cameras--in different locations.

My ice cream soda. 

We went to 2 more antique shops and the last one had a tempting item for me, as well.

I've been wanting one of these large, "walking wheel" spinning wheels for years, and when I inquired about the price, it was really good!  Some of the parts are missing, though, but the "deal breaker" was our future.  If I had my "forever house" and knew I had a spot for it, I would have bought it, but I don't.  I also shared this photo with my husband and he was really funny.  Instead of the usual "Where would you put it" all I got were diversionary texts that read "I thought you were supposed to be quilting?" and so forth.

We finally got back to the quilting room around 3:30 or 4.  I finished trimming the geese and began working on the second batch of those same geese.   I got all 200 plus geese done for the blocks that day, but I didn't even start on the border geese!  It was at that point that I realized I wasn't going to get the quilt done while at retreat.  More important, though, I had a lot of fun with my friends!

After supper on each night, we played "Left, Right, Center" with 2.5" fabric strips.  If you aren't familiar with the game, here is a youtube video.  In the video, they are playing with dollar bills--I've played that way in a large group before at a bunco game, and it is fun, but playing with the fabric strips is fun, too!  In either case, I think the bigger the group playing--the better!

The camp store at the retreat had the dice, so I bought myself a set.  I think it will be fun to play at family get-togethers, etc.  The game comes with chips, so you don't have to play for something.  One of the ladies said that she gets gift cards when she plays with family.  They use the chips and whoever wins the "pot" at the end gets a gift card.  At the next retreat, we decided to all bring a fat quarter and put them into the pot and then play with the chips--the winner will get all the fat quarters.  We had 18 playing, so for our games, the winner got 54 strips (3 per player), but next time, the winner will get 18 (or however many attendees play) fat quarters.

In case you are wondering, I didn't win.  Neither did any of the gals in my bee, but a few got close!  It was tremendously exciting!  After the game, thunderstorms and bad weather moved in, so we all stayed at the lodge longer than usual until the worst of them passed.  We didn't get anything severe, though, just pouring rain with some thunder and lightning.

I'll be back tomorrow to share the Blogger Girls BOM post!  More on the retreat later.  I actually have to run finish my second BOM block--I've been so busy this month playing around and traveling that I haven't finished yet!  Yikes!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Retreat Day One

Hi Everyone,

(Oops, I started writing this yesterday and then I needed to charge my laptop and never finished and posted!)

I got back from my retreat late Sunday afternoon, and boy was it a great one!  There were 18 wonderful quilters in attendance and one couldn't ask for a group of more wonderful quilters.

This was at the same place as we had our last retreat (back in January when it was really, really cold)--the Beth Page Camp/Resort.  This time there was much more activity around the grounds--back in January it was just us.  The weather was pretty near perfect, aside from the thunderstorm that we had on Friday night.

My friend, Janice, and I  left home at 7 AM and arrived around 8:30.  We did not use GPS this time, thinking we surely would remember the way, but of course, we didn't!  I think we were the first car to arrive other than the ladies who organized the whole thing.  We unloaded all of our sewing stuff and carried it in.  (My husband took all of the seats out of my van, and we had the entire back loaded.  I should have gotten a picture.)

In no time, we got set up.  We are such creatures of habit that we took the same tables we had last time!

That is all my stuff in the front, and Janice at her table next to it.  I have just one question for all of you.  If you have ever gone to a retreat, has anyone attending ever run out of projects to work on? I think we all take way too much stuff!

My goal was to finish my Talkin Turkey quilt that I began with Bonnie Hunter.  I thought it was pretty ambitious, but it didn't stop me from bringing along a few other projects.  Day one was spent doing the string piecing.  I needed to cover over a hundred 5" squares (cut from a phone book) as well as 16 full sheets of printer paper.  

This was our snack table.  It was still pretty full when we finished on Sunday!  We sure didn't starve.

For some reason, I can't get my pictures from my phone to "right themselves," but after lunch we went for a walk along the dock and then around through the camp ground.  It was such pretty weather!

At this retreat, we provide our own breakfast and lunch in our cottages and they cook supper for us.  Thursday night was homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese.  It was yummy.

During the course of the day, I emptied three bobbins and nearly finished the fourth, but just before 10 pm, I finally finished all of the string piecing!  My machine was tired and so was I.  Stitching on paper foundations really dulls the needle.  I left the trimming for morning and we went back to our rooms for the night.

I'll tell you more next time!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ice Skating Costume

Hi Everyone,

I think I mentioned a while ago that I was working away making my niece a skating costume.  She is 8 and figure skates competitively.

The music for this new program is "The Mexican Hat Dance" and so she required a costume that would continue that theme.  I Googled around for Mexican skating costumes, and didn't find much, so for inspiration, I Googled for traditional Mexican dresses and found lots of pictures of fancy, be-ribboned dresses like these:

Meanwhile, my sister ordered a pattern for me to use.  This one, to be exact:

I can't really recommend that you try one of these patterns unless you 1.  Know what you are doing or 2.  Have their instruction manual.  The instructions that are provided are extremely sketchy, at best.  Thanks to some youtube videos, and your advice, I got through it, though.

I selected red lycra 4-way stretch fabric and then hunted all over town for different colored strings of sequins.  I decided to use sequins instead of the ribbon on the traditional costume, as sequins are more eye-catching.  I also thought that the lace on the traditional costume was an important element, so I found some silver sparkly lace.

I spent several hours zig-zagging the sequins in place with clear, mono-filament thread and managed to break an entire package of stretch needles in the process.  Then I tackled the zipper, and it wasn't as hard as I thought it might be.  Actually, the trickiest bit was setting in the "v" of the bodice, as it was hard to preserve the sharp point when using stretchy fabric.  Finally, it was all finished!

I mailed it off.  Remember, she lives several states away and we weren't able to fit it as I worked.  Anyway, it arrived this week, and she tested it out today!

  The skirt flounces wonderfully when she moves and spins.  I asked her what her favorite part was, and she said the sleeves.  Best of all, it fits!  She has a bit of growing room, too, which is good at that age.

I'm pleased with how it emulates the traditional dress nicely, but is still a skating dress.  I can't wait to see video of her first performance in it, which is Saturday.  (We weren't cutting it close, not at all, ha ha.)

I'm even more pleased that it is finished and now I can get back to sewing on cotton.  I'm off to retreat tomorrow!!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Baby Quilt

Hi Everyone,

Way back in January, while I was at a quilt retreat, my sister had to be induced and my nephew was born nearly 6 weeks early.  I had made a baby quilt for him, but I don't think I ever showed it to you.  I decided on the pattern and as soon as we found out that she was expecting a boy, I bought the fabric and has this pieced before Thanksgiving.  I kept putting off the quilting, thinking that I had plenty of time!  

When I finally decided to go ahead and quilt it, at the last minute, I decided to use Minky for the backing.  I had never quilted with it before.  It took a while (and more than a little frustration) determining what needle to use.  I began with a regular 80, then tried a 90, then a Microtex sharp 80 and 90, and I was going to tear out my hair with frustration when I decided to see if Google would know the correct needle.  Perfecto!  One quick query and I found my answer:  a ball point needle, size 90.  I had one, put it in the machine, and finally I could machine quilt without skipped stitches or shredded thread.

Here is the finished quilt.  When I saw the cute elephant fabric by Bunny Hill, I knew I wanted to make the elephant quilt.  

The other day I saw a photo of my nephew on facebook, and in it he was laying on the quilt.

My sister was trying really hard to get him to smile, and then the dog came over and Matthew smiled at the dog.  He doesn't like to smile for the camera, though!  Matthew's outfit coordinates nicely with the quilt, too.  You can see that I used yellow Minky--it's showing there behind him.

Oh, and about the quilt retreat I was on?  I have another one this week!  I'm off from Thursday to Sunday to get some power sewing done.  I can't wait! 

Have a great day,

Monday, April 21, 2014

I'm Home Again

Hi Everyone,

I was gone for a few days!  A few posts ago, I had mentioned how a friend was considering moving to Tennessee.  She wanted to go back to look over the property a second, and more in-depth time, and asked if I would go along.  We left at 5 AM last Sunday and came home Tuesday night.  It was a beautiful drive down through the mountains to the area.

 It is in the small town of Tellico Plains, near Maryville.  We arrived there around 2 and we drove around figuring out how far it would be to a grocery store, Walmart, movie theater, etc.  We also researched quilt guilds/groups and think we found a bee in the area--my friend has emailed a potential contact.

Monday morning we met with the Realtor and went to the property.  It is a gorgeous log home located on several acres in a wooded, mountainous area.  We had just enough time to walk the property line, taking photos, and once we made it onto the deep, wonderful porches that surround the cabin, it began to pour down rain!  We went through the house taking photos and measurements and discussing possibilities.  I know I fell in love with it!  It is really a charming property.  We'll have to see what their final decision is.

After we finished with the real estate portion, we headed out to find the nearest quilt shops in Sevierville, TN.  (We asked, and if you don't know, it is pronounced "Severe-ville."  Also, Loudon is pronounced "Loud un" and Blount is pronounced "Blunt."  So the area sounds a little grouchy:  severe, loud, and blunt.  However, everyone we encountered was really friendly!)  The first quilt shop we found was the Cherry Pit.  This shop was featured in Quilt Sampler!

 They carry some Moda and other great fabric.  What I loved is that they are a bit "old-fashioned" in that ALL fabrics are arranged by color, with the only exception being the batiks.  I've been on such a huge spending-spree lately that I was trying to keep in in check, but I did find a few things.  It was the kind of shop that I would love in any town where I lived--a nice variety.

The next shop wasn't too far away and we were told it had recently opened.  It was on the Dolly Parton  Parkway.  Did you know the she was born/raised in Sevierville?  This shop is called Red Barn Custom Quilts.  I took quite a few photos inside this one.

The fabric in this shop was a bit more modern, although there was some Kansas Troubles, etc.  Do you see what captured my attention?  All the gorgeous wood displays.  I'm not sure how effective the ones in the top picture are since they "hide" the fabric on the bottom a bit.  

I didn't take pictures of all the matching small desks that are there for classes, too.

I had to ask if a local craftsman (or relative) made these beautiful pieces for the shop.  The answer was "no--the owner had them custom-made for the shop."  

We asked about a good place to eat for supper and ended up at The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge.  We drove by Dollywood, to get there!  It was a really good meal consisting of huge portions of southern food.  I had chicken and dumplings and my friend had trout.  We walked around browsing in the nearby shops (it was a touristy, artsy area) and then drove to our hotel in Danville.  

The next day, Tuesday, was our drive home, but we took a bit of a detour to Jonesborough, TN to see the quilt shops there.  There are two, but we didn't make it past the first one.

Tennessee Quilts is a destination shop!  Wow!  It is huge and has gorgeous fabrics and patterns!

I love the "barn quilts" that decorate the outside of the building.  I've never seen ones with "printed fabric."

The shop has a huge variety of lots of fabric, but they specialize in Kaffe Fassett.  They have every bolt of available Kaffe along with other fabrics like Amy Butler, etc. that are in that same genre.  Did I mention that this is my friend's favorite kind of fabric?  Yes!  For once, I wasn't the one who felt like I hit the "mother lode."  It was fun to watch her!

 Kaffe actually has been to the shop several times and may be back in October.

Another specialty of the shop is Judy Niemeyer patterns.  The have a certified instructor on staff and she was finishing one of the new patterns, Fire Island Hosta.  She likes to make up her samples using Kaffe fabrics.

She was auditioning borders, but isn't it stunning so far?  I love the giant-sized floral print in there!  If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that this isn't "my style" however, like most quilters, I can appreciate all quilting, and I really love this!  The shop was full of "Judy quilts."

Check out these double wedding ring pieces.  The one on the left is made of batik gradations--Judy Niemeyer's bali pops--and the one of the right is made from one printed fabric, with the arcs "fussy cut" to capture the gradated look.  (The pig below them is cute, too.)

This is blurry, but the pattern is Summer Solstice.  I caved in to the "pressure" and bought that pattern.  This shop isn't one that you can visit in an hour.  We ended up staying there right until lunch time.  We had lunch and then began the drive home.  We weren't too far down the road when we encountered rain.  The rain made the complete journey with us--sometimes it was pouring so hard we could barely see beyond the hood of the car!  We finally made it home around 7.  It was a fun trip!

I have to share a great story with you, too.  My friend is a twin, and her sister lives in Florida.  Shortly after I wrote my Bonnie Hunter posts, her sister's neighbor called her over and said she had to show her something.  The neighbor has been reading a quilting blog, and was surprised to see her her neighbor's sister's picture!  It was my blog, of course.  I think that is so cool.  Our world can be so small!  

Have a great day!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

We Hopped and Shopped

Hi Everyone,

Thursday was a long, but really fun day.  I left my house at 6:30 in the morning and didn't get home until 9:30 at night.  We went to four of the 6 shops on the hop and then had an unexpected stop near Richmond.

This was our route.  Over on the left side, halfway down, you can see the red marker showing our start/finish point.  We headed down and across the bottom of the map to Warrenton, NC.  It took about 3 hours to get there.  The next shop was about 40 miles back in Virginia at Boydton.  We had lunch there, as well as visiting the shop.  Then we journeyed for another hour and a half the the third shop in Crewe, VA and then a shot hop to Rice for the last of the shops.  After Rice, we traveled nearly straight east to Richmond.  We had supper there and then headed home.

This is the first shop:  Quilt Lizzy

It is a fun shop, chock full of Moda and lots of precuts.  Look!  They have all of Grant Park (one of my favorite lines by Minick and Simpson)

They also have two long arm machines and will happily quilt your tops for you!  Here is a picture.  There is lots of bright light in the shop, which I really appreciate.

Even with all of the great fabric, I was really trying to be good and not buy much.  My purchase at this shop was limited to this:
The Add-An-Eighth ruler.  The rest of the items were prizes and gifts.  For the hop, if you traveled in a group of 4 or more, and had some way to show that you were part of a group (we wore our guild cards as name tags fastened on our shirts with paperclips) they everyone in the group got a prize at each shop.  At Quilt Lizzy, we received the blue clip-on lanyard.

We took this picture at Quilt Lizzy.  I love it!  We are having every bit as much fun as it looks like.  My favorite thing about this shop is it's owner.  She is a real fun lady with a wonderful attitude!

It was a bit of a short drive to the next shop:

The Quilter's Nook in Boydton, VA.  This was a pretty small shop.

Our prize for being in a group was a certificate for $15 off any class.  That was really generous, but she figured out that since we lived so far away, we probably wouldn't take a class, so she gave us a fat quarter, too.  Here I found two pieces of fabric that I couldn't live without.

They are on the left, and my free fat quarter is on the right.  The cute mug package was a free gift you got if you made a purchase.  Inside is a kit to make a small bird quilt--so cute!  As part of the shop hop, each shop was having drawings on the hour.  We were there pretty early on in the hour, but we were ready for lunch, so we went next door to one of the two local restaurants.  We all had stomboli or calzones and they were pretty yummy.  When the hour mark came up, one of the girls took all of our tickets and went back to the shop to see if we had won, but none of us did.  (If I'm remembering correctly.)  We hadn't won anything at Quilt Lizzy, either.

We finished in Boydton and proceeded for over an hour to Crewe.  Along the way, we saw some evidence of construction and then traffic halted.  We were sitting there behind several cars and we could just make out a flagman holding a stop sign.  I speculated that we must have to wait for a pilot car.  After a bit of waiting, we finally got moving.  Sure enough, when we got back to the normal highway, we saw the pilot car.  Two of the girls had never had that fun experience before and hadn't really ever heard of the concept of "pilot car."  I grew up in South Dakota (home of 2 seasons:  winter and road construction) and lived 4 years in Alaska, so I am well acquainted with them.  But I'm curious.  How many of you have ever had to wait for a pilot car?

We finally got to the next shop, Rose Patch Creations.

I entered and all of my restraint went right out the window.  Image a quilt shop filled with all of your favorite kinds of fabric!  This is it for me!

Look at all of these red fabrics!  I was in Heaven.  This doesn't even show all the Civil War reproductions in the front part of the shop.  We had a great deal of enabling going on in this shop.  We were all clustered around the cutting table, "oooing and ahhing" over everyone's selections and then getting some cut for ourselves.  It was really fun.  And one of our group won the prize here, too!

This is my purchases from that shop.  Just a warning:  they take the "rose" theme a bit to heart and scent the shop like roses.  It wasn't so bad inside, but our purchases transferred the scent to the car.

It was another short drive to the final shop.
This is Lib's Place in Rice, VA.  It is full of fabric, but also yarn, scrapbooking supplies and gift items.  You can't really tell from the photo, but it is in a fun building that is reminiscent of an old country store.  Hanging over the railing of the shop was this gorgeous quilt.
Isn't it lovely?  As I got a closer look, it was surprising to see that it was tied, not quilted.  It actually added to the "antique" look of the quilt.

I found things at that shop, too.  See the great patriotic fabric that is sort of "cut your own jelly roll?"  I haven't seen that before, so I got some.  I think it will be neat to cross-cut the strips and use them for binding. The tan fabric is covered with stars.  One of the other ladies won the drawing here!

By the time we finished here, it was after 4.  We set off toward Richmond.  On the outskirts, we encountered this:
A wonderful Hobby Lobby!  We don't have one in our area and I knew there was one in the Richmond area, but I didn't dream we would be going right by.  Needless to say, we stopped!  They have lots of craft stuff and great fabric, but also a huge selection of decorating items and furniture.

Luckily for me, they already had Patriotic items out.  They always have a great selection.  I found these two things which needed to come home with me.  The base of the gnome says "God Bless America."

After Hobby Lobby we stopped for a nice supper and then drove the rest of the way home.  It was a wonderful day filled with friends, fabric, and fun.  What could be better?

Have a great day!