Friday, April 27, 2012

FMQ Challenge, and a Trip to Florida

I'm flying to Florida tomorrow to help my sister and brother-in-law move onto their new home, a Manta 40 catamarran.  (I wrote about the last visit to their house in Pittsburgh here.)  We'll be busy cleaning and organizing and, I hope, hanging out together over coffee or wine.  Jack already posted a picture of their first dinner aboard, with Izzy the cat keeping watch.

But before departure, I quickly did the Free Motion Challenge lesson for April.  Don Linn is the teacher for April, and he demonstrated his method for marking quilting designs.  He uses tulle to make a "template" of a quilting design that you then trace onto fabric using your favorite marker.  Here are the supplies used to make the template.  You stretch the tulle in a quilting or embroidery hoop, place it over a paper copy of the design and trace the design using a permanent marker.  Then you place the tulle over your fabric and trace with your favorite temporary marking tool.  I use an air erasable marker.

Here is my completed quilting sample.  I used Superior Threads Rainbow with The Bottom Line in the bobbin.  Although the quilting isn't first rate, I really liked the marking procedure and will certainly try it again.
 I know I promised a post about one of the projects I took on our quilt retreat in March.  It's coming....after my trip!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Retreat: Sew. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Last weekend, my quilt guild held its annual retreat in Stroudsburg, PA, at the Shawnee Inn.  This was my first retreat, and I had a wonderful time and am ready to go again!  It was bliss to be able to sew and talk quilting and share quilting tips and get to know other members without having to worry about meals, laundry, cleaning and all the other daily responsibilities that impinge on sewing time.
The Shawnee is an old, venerable, classic hotel; when you walk down the halls, you see photographs of visitors like President Eisenhower, Mickey Mantle, Dizzy Gillespie and even the Lone Ranger!  (I don't know whether Tonto was there or not; I didn't see a picture.)  The Inn sits right on the Delaware River north of the Delaware River Gap; we were lucky to have unseasonably warm weather on Friday and Saturday, so two friends and I had a lovely walk on Saturday morning before we began our sewing marathon.

We also took some time out to visit Pocono Sew and Vac in Stroudsburg, too.  What a wonderful store!  It is family owned, and they sell just about every make of sewing machine as well as fabric and thread and notions.  I scored a Bendable Bright Light, and pair of Machingers Quilting Gloves and a few yards of fabric on sale.  (I did not even go to the part of the store where they sell vacuum cleaners!  This was a quilting retreat, after all.  If I ever go on a housecleaning retreat, I'll look at vacuums.)

The Inn provided us with a big meeting room where we could set up our machines and irons.  The room was available to us from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon.  Throughout the weekend, there was the hum of sewing machines punctuated with the voices of quilters complimenting, questioning, advising, reassuring, exclaiming about each others' projects.

I spent a lot of time before the retreat prepping for the projects I took with me.  Like some travelers, I over-packed projects because I wanted to be sure that I could choose what to work on depending on my mood.  One of the projects I worked on was my interpretation of a house block inspired by Jeanneke"s Building Houses from Scraps.

If you have seen the Building Houses from Scraps blog, you know that Jeanneke started a project to make 366 3" house blocks in 2012, one for each day of the year.  I decided that 3" blocks were way too small for me, and although I enjoy hand-piecing, finding the time and motivation to make one block a day for a year is not a commitment I could fulfill, so I drafted my own 6" house block and cut up lots of scraps to take on the retreat.
Here's the first house block that I used as a guide:

I cut up some charm squares and lots of scraps and a few jelly roll strips.  Except for choosing appropriate fabrics for the sky pieces, matching the pieces on either side of the door and window, I cut all the other fabrics into pieces without regard to color or scale.  After making a few blocks, I also decided to fussy cut some of the windows.

Here's a tip for organizing pieces for blocks that require lots of little pieces: use a cutlery tray!
Here's what my tray looked like before I started piecing:

And here are the blocks I made during the retreat.

Now that I am home and doing some other sewing, I'm using the house project as leaders and enders, much less pressure than making a house every day! (Oops!  I just realized that two of the blocks are not pieced correctly....too many distractions, I guess.)

Next up, another project that was in my retreat baggage, one of my favorite patterns and one of my bucket list quilts.