Monday, March 18, 2013

Small Quilt Retreat

Some of us in the northern Illinois area are thinking of getting together for a casual small quilting retreat this spring. Actually I would call it more of an informal Sew-In type of thing. The event would be held at  Techny Towers in Northbrook, Illinois, just a hop, skip and jump from Chicago. This idea came up rather suddenly when I suggested that some of us who live in the Chicago area get together and have a sewing day. We're still in the planning stages (Well, Heather is doing all the planning) and announcing it now to see if any of you who live in the Chicago area might be interested in joining us. (Out of towners are certainly welcome too!)

The dates that are under consideration are Sat & Sunday May 18-19 or Sat & Sun June 8-9.  If you are interested in joining us on one of those dates let me know. It will not be a very structured retreat -  mostly time for sewing, relaxing and chatting. Getting away from it all if you will, sewing for 2 days without too many distractions. If you are in my Yahoo Small Quilt group, go to the database there and sign up with your preferences. If you're an out-of-towner and are interested, contact me for more details.
I am not scheduled to teach a class (Great! You can save money and not incur a class fee! I usually charge a fee for my classes.) but I promised that I would show quilters how to make easy Orange Peels for the Orange Peel Quilt from my book Remembering Adelia using starch and no-melt Mylar templates. I've taught this method a few times after my friend Shirley got me started doing applique this way and it's an easy way to get those nice points on the peels. So if you choose you can bring some fabric for the peels and background squares and I will bring the supplies to help you make some of those. Maybe you'll feel like making the whole quilt after that.


Participants have the option of staying for one day (Saturday) and going home if you live nearby or both days (Saturday and Sunday). The cost is dependent upon how many we get to sign up but roughly it should cost $90 for 2 days of sewing and 4 meals ($45 for one day, including 2 meals). Added to this is the cost of your room - $64 for a single room, $94 for a double (divided by 2 people) and $126 for a triple (divided by 3). You may come with an arranged roommate(s) or have a roommate assigned. All rooms have twin beds and a bathroom.
I think this is pretty reasonable. A few of us are already signed up and we're committed to spending the weekend making small quilts with abandon! Bring your machine or come and do some hand sewing with us. We all felt that it would be fun not to have a structured class or an assigned quilt so you are encouraged to bring whatever it is you're working on or choose a small quilt from one of my books, gather your fabric and I will help you get started on it. There will be a Small Quilt Show & Tell on Saturday and perhaps I will also bring a few of my quilts for a trunk show.
I organized a more structured retreat up in Wisconsin in 2011 and it was great fun. If this one turns out good and we get enough people we may hold another one like this in the Fall too.
Remember the slide show from the Wisconsin retreat??  This could be you, having fun with others who love to make small quilts . . . .

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

That quilting weekend was almost perfect. Everyone seemed to have a good time and I was happy to see that many got a lot of quilting done. This one will be less rustic - there's a couple of nice outdoor malls across the street - but will have better food and no centipedes. Join us, why don't you?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Put Down Those Uglies and Celebrate

Had enough of those ugly fabrics you've been working with this month? I'm taking a break from working with my uglies for this month's little quilt and celebrating National Quilting Day early. Yes, quilters, we have a national holiday! Who knew? And we're not even presidents or saints. (Unless you're a mother or a wife, then yes, you certainly qualify for sainthood. The new pope proclaimed it, I hear.)
Today, I also took a small break from cutting up pinks and reds for the remainder of the Little Sweethearts kits because my wrist was feeling achy and look what I came up with - a cute little pattern for a quilt using up some of those scraps I bought not too long ago.

Remember these? They've now been sorted and bagged and have been just sitting there on my table for weeks, waiting (begging?) to be used up. So, okay, I looked at them this morning and decided to work with these scraps for a few minutes to get me inspired and motivated to go back to the kit work.

These were fun to make! Maybe I'll finish the rest tomorrow. Now, I'm mostly using my "pretties," but this is another small quilt that would probably look great with a few uglies tucked in here and there to make it sort of "antiquey" looking. I'll try to use some of those too.
I've been meaning to put up some new patterns for purchase on my website but find that I seem to keep making patterns that I give away instead. As I was sewing, I thought, heck -  I wonder if anyone would buy this pattern? It's so cute. What if I sold the pattern and included a bag of assorted scraps to go along with it? Not a kit exactly, but just some scraps that will help you get started making this. Maybe even a few uglies, LOL. So I put it up on my website today in case anyone is interested. I have not finished making mine yet but you can buy the pattern here.

Darn cute.
Well, I don't know what you're doing tomorrow, but I'm going to observe our national holiday by working on this pretty little quilt and celebrate the day along with everyone else: Yay! I'm a quilter and I have a day of recognition for my hobby. What else should I be doing?
"Hey, too much quilting going on here - how about a National Dog Walking Day for a change??! I'm waaaiting. . . . "  (Sweetie, in case you forgot, every day is national dog walking day here at our house . . . . )
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I am finishing up with the Little Sweethearts kits and be assured - if yours has not arrived yet, they will all be mailed out to the rest of you who ordered one sometime next week. Hopefully, that is, barring any unforeseen circumstances that may crop up (something always seems to).  I'm working my way down the list. Most have gone out already and I will make my daily trek to the Post Office with more packages this afternoon. Thanks for being so patient. (The kits are now sold out but you can still buy the Little Sweethearts runner pattern here.)

Monday, March 11, 2013

March Rain

DEAR March, come in!
How glad I am!
I looked for you before.
Put down your hat—
You must have walked—       
How out of breath you are!
Dear March, how are you?
And the rest?
Did you leave Nature well?
Oh, March, come right upstairs with me,       
I have so much to tell!

                         -Emily Dickinson

See what I mean about March in Chicago?? Bleak and rainy. Don't know what Emily was talking about. I'm not glad. I'm trying to keep March out, not welcome it in. All that mud. Almost all of our beautiful snow from last week has melted and the mud and grit is starting to seep through the ice and water. Ugh. No dogs out in the back for awhile. I suppose I should be thrilled with the thought that it won't be long until spring gets here.
Couldn't we just skip March and go straight to April ??
I'm still working on getting your kits out but as I mentioned I ran out of fabric again and and more is on it's way. Patience.  I am not a shop so I don't have bolts and bolts of this fabric on hand. But don't worry, if you ordered a kit I will still get it out to you eventually. You weren't going to make it until NEXT Valentine's Day anyway, right?

I am enjoying seeing your little triangles quilts made with Ugly Fabrics. They are turning out so pretty! I knew they would. Keep going -  you still have a few weeks left to finish it up before we begin another quilt for April. 
I played around with some of my half-square triangles this morning and threw in a couple of pretty ones for good measure -
I'm afraid some of these "uglies" are starting to grow on me.

Some pretties I bought recently:
I didn't realize it but I guess I must be thinking about making a blue and red quilt  : ).   Just as soon as I am not busy making up kits . . .

Friday, March 1, 2013

March Ugly Fabric Challenge

March is always a blah month for me. Here in Illinois the days are often gray this time of year. Can't really enjoy winter. We've had enough already. Spring has not yet arrived and it could be some time before it does. Sometimes we get a little snow but then it warms up just enough to make yucky slush and then the snow turns gray too. Too early to garden or shake off the winter clothes. I usually get a cold in March and want to spend more time reading on the couch. Mostly, I think of March as a "holding" month. The month just before spring explodes.

Gray days. A lot of waiting around, looking out the window, waiting for something to happen.
It's a very good time to make a quilt, however. And for the small quilt challenge this month I'd like to suggest something different - something that may perk you up a bit. I am suggesting that you make a quilt using some of those UGLY fabrics you have lying around, ones you thought you'd never use. Maybe you inherited them and can't bear to throw away fabric, even if you don't really like it. Perhaps they came as a surprise in a bundle or tucked in the middle of a scrap package. Maybe you bought them and then when you got home said "Why in the world did I buy this?? Did I forget to take off my sunglasses in the store?"

Don't yell at me -  you may love these prints but I do not and I don't know what to do with them.
I hardly ever buy fabrics I don't love. It's difficult for me to put ugly fabrics into a quilt I'm making - or even just fabrics that aren't necessarily ugly, just ones I don't especially like. If I don't like them then every time I look at the quilt my eye goes directly to those prints and reminds me that I should have used something different, something more pleasing. I can't help it.
Last year around this time I blogged about making a couple of quilts for one of our small quilt challenges using some "ugly" prints I picked up in a package at a quilt show. (Pretty ones were on top, ugly ones tucked underneath. Surprise!) I felt like grabbing my scissors and cutting them up into miniscule pieces and destroyng them right then and there. What quilt could I possibly ever make with some of these?? I don't care for green, brown and yellow.


These are a little more interesting but I would never buy them. Wait, I did . . . .
Here's what I wrote then and it still stands: "Please don't e-mail me to tell me that these are not ugly prints. You have your ugly prints and I am entitled to mine : ) They are "ugly" to me and I would not have bought any of them alone. They came in a packet of pre-cut squares with a lot of really pretty squares and I am trying to make the best of them, LOL. Perhaps an Ugly Quilt challenge someday?" 
Ladies, that day is here.
Last year I paired my ugly prints with some pretty ones. Not too bad.
After I mixed those prints with some pretty ones, and worked those pieces into the quilts, I was very pleased with the way they turned out. I think some of you can really have fun with this the way I did. I will say it again, lest I offend anyone  - okay, not all of the prints are necessarily "ugly," they just do not appeal to me in the same way other prints do. Yet I found that when I mixed these ugly prints with  my "lovely" prints the result was great. You see this in antique quilts all the time and I have to get used to doing this more, learning to like my quilts made with prints that don't appeal to me at first. I will never LOVE some of these prints, but I think I can do them justice by using them in a quilt that I will actually come to like.

This was a lot of fun and forced me to go "outside my box" a bit. Now it's your turn.

I added tan setting squares to separate the busy blocks and this is what it all turned into - a not-so-ugly quilt! That post mentioned above from last year also had some advice on how to choose borders for your quilts.

So, this is the challenge for March -  make a small quilt using half-square triangles and some of your ugly fabric. Those in my Yahoo group will be making either the Scrappy Triangles Quilt from the free pattern on my website or the Strippy Triangles quilt in my book American Doll Quilts. (The pattern for this quilt is also in the new Martingale & Co. book  101 Fabulous Small Quilts.) Or you can make it look like the quilt above, with Broken Dishes blocks.

(From American Doll Quilts. Photo by Brent Kane. Doll designed by Gail Wilson)

You may also like this little quilt I saw on eBay . I thought it was very similar to that  free pattern on my website. It also has some ugly prints but the whole effect is very cute I think. Make your quilt with or without the borders. Mix it up with pretty fabric if you're like me and just cannot do it solely with prints you don't like. Use as many ugly prints as you are comfortable with. Make it larger and turn it into a table runner if you like.  Add some applique or strips between the rows. Be creative. And remember, you're doing a good thing by rescuing those ugly fabrics from certain destruction. I carry my scissors with me when I visit guilds and would be happy to help you decide. If you really really don't like how it turns out when you're finished, you can always give it away to that person who complains that you NEVER make her anything . . . .
Cute or Ugly?
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Little Sweethearts runner kit update: The fabric I ordered for the kits is still not here due to some weather difficulties and problems with UPS deliveries. So I have not been able to start putting together the kits yet. I know you're anxious to receive them. I appreciate all of your orders and will work hard to get them out to you soon. Again, thanks for your patience.