Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Heavenly Fabric Has Arrived

I am so excited ..... I just received my friend, Jackie Paton's, 1st fabric line. It is so incredible. I hope to have it scanned and on my website in a few days for you to view, but, in the meantime, let me tell you it is beyond wonderful. Jackie has developed a technique she calls "stencilscapes". She paints the most beautiful scenes on fabric and Red Rooster was able to reproduce them so perfectly. The collection is called "Happily Ever After". It has a large panel and 4 small panels, plus many coordinating fabrics. I bought the whole collection based on her preliminary stenciled pieces. I didn't even see the fabrics itself - that's how sure I was that it would be a winner. I have already made a wallhanging from the large panel and 2 placemats from the small panels. Someday when I buy that ever elusive "easy to use" digital camera, I'll be able to show you pictures. In the meantime, I've added a photo to my blog. Guess who????

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The End of Errors of My Ways

Does the title of this blog sound like a segment from the Jerry Springer Show? Well, it's not quite so spicy. I have finally finished the pineapple log cabin variation blocks I was working on where I had my blonde moment (or two) from the previous post. I didn't make any more mistakes since I decided to actually read the directions after the mistakes on the first 48 block! I am now ready to put on the borders and, of course, I am debating which fabric to use for the 2nd border. I have a really great fabric, but I'm not sure how to cut it so that the design doesn't look all chopped up. I think sometimes fabric designers just make beautiful designs but don't actually think about how their designs will work when cut. Do you cut it to get all of one design and just have a little bit of something else on the edges? Do you cut it randomly (which definitely isn't in my nature)? I've taken classes with Mary Ellen Hopkins where you were supposed to grab any fabric from the bag and use it. Oh my goodness, this is something that can put me into a spin. I like to have the colors biggest "outside of the box" was putting together a 30's quilt and using all of the pastel shades and also using red and blue. But of course, I had to put the red and blue blocks together and the pastel blocks together separately. Heaven forbid if you put a lavender with a red! The color police would have been at my door.
I am now researching digital cameras because I am very camera challenged. If you have any suggestions of a camera that is easy enough for a 1st grader to use and also easy to download photos to my blog, please let me know. I want to be able to share pictures of my works in progress with you.
Have a great quilting day.. Mary Jane

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Blonde Moment (or Two)

It's been a week since my last post and I can tell you it's been quite a week! I've been frantically working trying to get ready for my first quilt show of the year. It's in February in Hampton, Virginia and I'm working on my samples, trying to arrange trunk shows of other designer's quilts and generally running around like a crazy woman (or at least a little crazier than my normal crazy self). Then the telephone rings and it is the vendor coordinator from Quilters Heritage Celebration in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Now I've wanted to be a vendor at this show is a wonderful show! Never did I think that they would actually call me when they have a waiting list that is endless. So added to the craziness of getting ready for Virginia, I'm now also trying to get together my 30 foot booth for their show which is the end of March.

Here's where the blonde moment comes in.....(and I can say this because I am blonde, so no offense meant to other blondes out there in cyberspace).....I decided that I would make this wonderful variation of a pineapple log cabin. I get together a few bolts of reds, greens, and medium blues....find a great fabric for the border and get to work. I had to cut 48 2-1/2" strips of reds, greens, and blues, several strips of background fabric, tons of squares (148 of 4-1/2" squares of background, just for starters) and thought I really had it together. I used my Accu-Cut die cut machine for the strips and then with a flash of genius, realized that I could use the 5" square die to make my 4-1/2" squares. How might you ask? Just cut them at 5", then cut 1/2" off two sides! Much easier than cutting it all from the I'm feeling pretty smart! Forget about cooking, cleaning, or anything else. I'm just focused on this quilt. So I've just finished Step 2 (we're talking about 48 blocks now and it took awhile to get through Step 2) and realize that I mixed up the background and the strip fabric placement in Step 1. I looked at the diagram because, really, who actually reads the written directions of the pattern? In the diagram it showed a light fabric and a dark fabric....wouldn't you think that light meant the background fabric (especially since their quilt had a light background), and dark meant the other fabrics? Now it dawns on me that I have just made 48 blocks the wrong way....AARGH! And there is no way to take them apart and re-do them because of the trimming you do along the way. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I lay them out on the table (and thank my lucky stars that I didn't get through Step #4 before I realized my mistake) and find that I have made a rather interesting design. Of course, not the one I wanted to make or anything that resembles the pattern, but, nonetheless, it is usable. There is no time to complete this interesting "error" now, but I'll put it aside and finish it another day. Yesterday I went back to the cutting process again and I've started to remake my 48 blocks. I'm through Step #3 now and so far I've stayed on track and my blocks are put together the way the pattern shows. If I'm lucky I'll complete them tonight and let you know soon how they look. Until then....READ YOUR PATTERN DIRECTIONS and you won't have all of the cutting fun I just had. Or if you strive to be a blonde, try it my way! They say blondes have more fun. Did they lie?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Where Does The Time Go?

I can't believe how quickly time passes. When I was growing up my family used to take a vacation every summer to Wisconsin to visit our relatives. My father would take 2 weeks off of work and we would drive from Los Angeles to Wisconsin. Somehow those 2 weeks seemed to last forever....and the memories of the fun we had have lasted my whole life. Now 2 weeks seems like minutes. Is it because we have so much more to do now compared to when we were young? Or is it just some kind of time "vacuum" we are in and the vacuum is compressing time? So my way to gain a few hours each day is to give up some of my sleep. This is not a wonderful solution, but it is a way to find a few more hours each day.
I usually start my projects about 8 pm each night and work until 11:30 pm. You would be surprised how much you can get done in those few hours each night. I started a baby quilt this week and it is so adorable. I am using a fabric similar to Minkee, but made by RJR. It has more of a nap to the fabric than Minkee and it is so soft and cuddly. I cut 5" squares of white, pink, and a pale lime green. I'm putting together a row of green and white squares, then a row of white and pink squares. Once I have the top together and the back on, I'm going to use jumbo rick-rack and put it diagonally between the green and pink squares. (Someday I'll get a camera so I can show you pictures of projects in the works, but that's a whole other post to write about my camera challenged existence). I absolutely LOVE rick-rack .....give me the baby size, jumbo, whatever....I'm happy! Rick-rack reminds me of my Home Ec classes. We made an apron and put 2 rows of rick-rack on the bottom. My sister still has her apron and we take it out sometimes to reminisce about those days. We also made pot holders, which have long since gone to pot holder heaven. Maybe the pot holders were my first endeavor into a variation of paper piecing, because they had us sew on paper first without thread in the needle so we could get used to following lines (and hopefully not sewing our fingers). So now it is time to sign off and get on with the day. Mary Jane

Thursday, January 3, 2008

From The Frozen Tundra

When I climbed out of my nice warm bed this morning, I knew it was chilly. Then I looked at the thermometer and it said 10 degrees BELOW ZERO, so I knew it was more than chilly. Even Mick, our Sheltie, who loves the cold weather, since he's always dressed up in his fur coat, thought it was too cold to stay out very long. He usually wants to engage in a game of chase the snowballs, but not this morning. Now they are talking about temperatures getting up to almost 50 degrees by Sunday. I don't know if I should get out the shorts and sleeveless tops, or put on my long johns! Oh to think that this is only January 3rd....what will the real winter months bring?

I finished the blocks on my last quilt of 2007, but I didn't put the borders on yet. So I guess now it will become my 1st quilt of 2008 once I put the borders on tonight. (Of course, I'm already planning my next project.) And those of you who are reading this that live locally, I'm going to have a 1930's party on January 12th. The price of "admission" is to bring a dessert to share with the other "party" people! We are going to make a small 1930's project, so make sure you sign up because space is limited to 6. And you will need to get together your "party" supplies so you can complete this cute little project. Happy Quilting....Mary Jane

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Spreading Happiness in 2008

Now that we are in the 2nd day of 2008, I think it is time to reflect on our goals for this year. I'm not talking about New Year's resolutions .... they are too easy to make and far easier to forget! We can all think that we'd like to lose 10 (20, 30) pounds, etc. but maybe it is time to make realistic goals that can be attained, that are actually fun and might bring happiness to someone else. Most quilt guilds do community projects, such as quilts for babies and children staying in the pediatric unit of the hospital, quilts for residents of nursing homes, Quilt Pink participation and more. If you do not belong to a quilt guild, you might approach a local medical center, nursing home or hospital and start a program yourself. The residents will be so happy to have a handmade quilt they can call their own! And the happiness you bring them will stay with you all year.

So that's it for today from the immensely snow covered Northeast!