Monday, April 19, 2010

Quilt Festival Chicago - Part 2

For the past several years the Spring International Quilt Festival has been held in Chicago (Rosemont, actually) and I am lucky enough to live nearby. Very convenient for me and a great chance to see incredible quilts on display as well as vendors galore where you can buy just about anything quilting related and see what's new in fabric, patterns, books and tools. Next year the show will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio and I'm not sure if I'll be able to make the trip. So the fun was good while it lasted. Here are some more highlights:

It's hard NOT to get inspired by some of the wonderful booth displays.


I have to hand it to the shops--they do a great job enticing us with their samples.

I want this little sewing machine! Darn, just a display.

Lots of antique quilts for sale . . .

I should probably try to be more "sophisticated" about all of this, but I can't tell you how exciting it STILL is to see one of my books and the quilts made from it on display. I'm always amazed and sometimes have to pinch myself. Am I dreaming??

I remember attending my first Quilt Festival in 2004--I had just finished my first book for Martingale & Co. (That Patchwork Place) which would come out later that year and I was pretty much in a daze about it all, as you can imagine. Alex Anderson was there signing books and I stood in line for 20 minutes to get her autograph. (My first Quilting Celebrity! Shoot! I forgot my camera!) When it was finally my turn I handed her the book to sign and I think I blurted out something like  "I'm going to be an author too!" I'll never forget the sweet, quizzical look she gave me--I must have seemed like a 5-year-old telling her what I wanted to be when I grew up. Before I could explain--Oops! it was someone else's turn and I slinked away, embarrassed. I'm STILL excited to meet quilting celebrities but now I try to remember to bring my camera and shut my mouth.

Pat Sloan

Paula Barnes of Bonnie Blue Quilts had a great booth.

Kaffe Fassett signing books

Lori Smith

I bought waaaaaay too much fabric, but mostly charm packs, small bundles or fat quarters so it's one way of justifying buying some of each print I see that I like. I need a huge variety for my scrappy little quilts, right? So now I think I really have to get cracking and make something.

Oh, I posted more pictures of some of the antique quilts from the show here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thrifting Expedition

I took some time for myself yesterday to just relax and browse through a few antique thrift shops. It's been a couple of months since I went over there and it's always fun to see what's new. I had nothing particular in mind I wanted to buy, but I always look for quilts, of course. One time my friend Julia got a really good deal on an antique quilt, so you never know.

I sort of loved this little blue doll cupboard. Didn't buy it. Wish I had more room to display it somewhere. It was kind of beat up and the last thing I need is another project to fix up. Also, too small to display quilts.

One store had a wall with quite a few samplers and I couldn't believe the dates on them until--duh--I realized they were reproductions. Cute, even if they weren't authentic. I made a few cross-stitch samplers myself before I got into quilting.

Dishes or cups? Nooooo thank you; my husband would kill me if I brought home any more, but they were so pretty I took a second look and had to take a picture at least.

I saw this doll quilt under an old doll in a buggy and the shop owner tried to convince me it was from the '20s but I know it was probably made much later--1940s? Just a guess--I'm NOT a quilt historian and I know very little about fabric dating. I walked away but for some reason kept coming back to it until I finally said OKAY quilt, you win. Wrap it up.

I hardly ever see antique doll quilts and usually can't afford the price if I do but this one was cheap and if I don't exactly love it--I do like it a lot. Especially the scrappy patches. The bright colors remind me of Spring. Looks good with my doll cradle even if it's not quite primitive enough.


I bought this old T quilt a couple of months ago (T for Tracy, yay!). Don't they almost remind you of little kimonos? Love it.



So now I have 2 antique doll quilts in my "meager" collection. Who knows what I'll find the next time?

*  *  *

Coming later this week: I'll be at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago (Rosemont) on Friday, skulking about with my camera, won't that be fun? They're moving to Cincinnati next year so this is the last time the Fest will be in my backyard, so to speak.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Perfect Little Iron

Take a look at this baby . . . I was introduced to it by someone in a class I taught recently.

It's a cute little purple Rowenta travel iron, perfect for classes and retreats and also great for taking along on vacation or whatever.

I sometimes find the big iron a tad clumsy when I'm working on small blocks and I never thought small irons heated up enough. BUT, this one does the trick. And, the best part is--it works just as well as a full-size iron. When I saw how hot it got, I knew it'd be perfect for pressing my little blocks and getting into some of those tiny corners when I'm working on my Dear Jane blocks too.

I had to have one and so yesterday I zipped over to my local Bed Bath & Beyond (with my handy dandy 20% off coupon, of course—I always keep a batch in the car. You do know that they even accept expired coupons, don't you??).

After getting it home and trying it out myself, I must say I am not disappointed—it heats up quickly and glides nicely and it's sooo light but does a heavy job with steam. Since I'm usually not pressing huge quilts or sheets or anything, this is working out perfectly for me and my little blocks. If little blocks are your thing and you’re in the market for an iron that's compact and light that does a heavy duty job, go for this one—it works like a charm and I don't think you'll be disappointed.

My husband sure doesn't get it but working with cute little accessories either in colors I like or that are nice to look at makes it more fun. Like my heart-shaped scissors--I get a kick every time I look at them, they're so cute and functional too. (I just love hearts, you know.)

Same with pretty bowls and mugs—I love drinking out of pretty mugs and almost don't mind washing them by hand if they're aesthetically pleasing to look at. I find that my to-do lists get done faster when I write them neatly on pretty paper too. Go figure. Must be the visual thing. I think it's easy to get  inspired when we surround ourselves with colors and images we love.

We'll actually be in the market for a new vacuum soon—maybe I can find a pretty blue one to help make THAT chore more fun?? Actually, I doubt even a blue one would help me in that area . . .

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rainy Days, Good News and Jane

It poured this morning and is supposed to rain for the next few days and now our backyard is sort of a big puddle in the back. But everything is getting greener and greener and greener and buds are beginning to appear on the trees and shrubs. 

Don't you love the smell of wet earth? 

The rain makes me want to stay inside and quilt, but that's not what everyone else around here wants to do, so right after I walk the dogs I'll get some sewing in. I think I'm not the only one who's anxious for Spring . . .

You never know what you'll find in a puddle if you get really really close . . .

C'mon, Mom--hurry up already! (I've lost all my own "puppy" energy.)

So now I'm finally getting back to making a few more blocks for the Dear Jane quilt I started this year. I think I'll make an easy one today. The pieces are already cut out. Sometimes I spend time just preparing the blocks and then they're ready whenever I'm ready.

Some of the blocks are hand pieced, some are machine pieced, and guess what? I made one yesterday using foundation paper piecing. Good for me! I've always dreaded the thought, but I needed to learn. I'm thinking once I get it down it'll make many of the blocks a lot easier. I think I need to make a few before I get the hang of it. Right after I make some more easy ones, LOL.

I have to say, I'm loving the Dear Jane software by EQ. It makes it really EASY to make some of the blocks instead of tracing them from the book. I love easy. You can print out the foundation patterns or the rotary cutting directions for some of the more straight-forward blocks. Can you tell I'm trying to encourage everyone to make this quilt?? So much fun, can't tell you. I'm up to 18 finished ones already.

I'll be using these fabrics today:

You know I love red and blue . . .

With Dear Jane I don't need to go out and buy more fabric, my "old" scraps will do just fine, thank you very much.

*  *  This just in:  *  *


 Picked up the mail today after our walk and guess what:  Remembering Adelia is now in its 4th printing!! What a nice surprise. I have all of you to thank for this--I knew you'd like her.


I was just thinking about Adelia today too--and the day in 1861 it rained so much the carriages couldn't get through the mud on the roads and the girls couldn't get to the depot to see the soldiers off.


Thank you for liking it! (I promise I won't go into a Sally Field moment here. . . but I'm close.)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter, Happy Spring

Look what's peeping out in my garden-- 

Won't be long now!

This is the time of year when a quilter's fancy turns to--PASTELS! Or at least mine does . . . I don't usually work with brights or pastels very often but I definitely get the urge in Spring.

This little Feedsack Flower Garden quilt (from American Doll Quilts) is one of my all-time favorite springtime quilts and honestly, it's so much fun I've made several over the years. If you don't have the book to follow the pattern, it's easy. First, get out your '30s scraps. 


For each block, trace five hearts ( I used a 1 3/8-inch template) onto fusible web (I used Lite Steam-A-Seam 2). Then fuse them onto the wrong side of assorted pastel fabric scraps, cut out and fuse onto a 4-inch light background square in a circle. (If you're making the quilt with 12 blocks, yes, that's 60 hearts you have to cut out . . . )

Sew the blocks together into 4 rows of 3. Hand quilt in the ditch along the blocks and along the outside of the "flower" about 1/16 inch away from the edge to make it puff up a bit and give it that hand applique look without the work of applique. Give the flowers a good shot of steam to make the fabric pucker a little. To make the scalloped design in the borders, I used a small cup to make the curves.

Gosh darn cute!

Today I'm making a Carrot Cake for Easter dessert:

Carrot Cake

3 eggs
1 1/4 cups oil
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
4 carrots, grated

 Still have to find a recipe for a good cream cheese frosting, yum.
I hope you all have a great Easter holiday! I'll let you know how the cake turned out . . . .