Monday, December 17, 2012

Oh Brother! You are a &*#$^@#!!!

Whew!  I'm glad to report that I have made some progress on my Abundance quilt.  Here are a few completed blocks. 

 I love the toile background fabric of this block.  It's a very subtle blue-green fabric.

Here's a trio of acorns.  I decided to use wool felt for the stems.

And a pair of cornucopias.

And a squirrel wreath with 78 pieces!

And here's my favorite block.

But wait, there's a problem.  There is actually another "ruffle" between the brown check fabric and the background but the color is so pale that it blended right into the background.  I did not have the heart to rip it all out and replace the fabric so my friend Janet suggested that I outline it with embroidery floss just so it stands out just a little bit more.  Hmmm, I'll post a photo right after I work on it.

I had to put away my Abundance project for a while to finish up a present for my friendship group annual gift exchange.  This year, I picked Patty's name and I wanted to do something special for her.  She's been a very generous friend to me and she's also had a tough year, so I decided to give her the snowman redwork which I was working on when I went to the Philippines earlier this year.    

So, I finished the block and decided to make it into a pillow (18 inch square).  I hope you can see the rick rack framing the block.

All I had to do was sew on the zipper on top and serge 3 sides to finish this project.  However, I hit a road bump with my serger.  Just like last year, my serger (a Brother) decided to fall apart at the slightest face of a challenge.  Last year, the upper knife broke.  This year, the needle broke while sewing 2 pieces of cotton together!  Come on now.  It's 2 thin pieces of cotton.  it's not even upholstery fabric, denim or corduroy.  I was so frustrated, I just had to use every curse word in every language I know.  I was probably over reacting but anyone who has ever had to thread a serger and jam 3 threads through one eye of a needle knows how annoying and frustrating it can be.  Thus the title of this post.

I'm glad to report that I was eventually (like an hour plus later) able to re-thread the serger and finish the pillow.  I have to admit I was really tempted to keep the pillow but I know it's going to a very good home.

As for the serger, it is on probation and final notice.  If it misbehaves one more time when I'm on a deadline, I may not be so kind.

Friday, November 30, 2012

November was a blur!

It's December tomorrow!  I am starting to panic a little bit as my schedule is filling up fast!  I've got to finish the gift for my friendship group's gift exchange.  So, I'm going to have to put a couple of projects on hold till I get the gift done.  I have less than a week.  

Here are a few more blocks for my Abundance quilt.  I've been appliqueing a couple hours each night and developing a callous on the side of my middle finger.

Here's the cornucopia.

I'm not sure if I like this corn.  Some of the yellow kernels are melding into the background.  Dare I unstitch them and replace them with a darker yellow fabric?

Here's the pear.  I'm not too thrilled with it either.  I will have to see how the blocks look side by side and then decide if I will have to redo any of the blocks.

And here's the acorn swag.  I decided to use wool felt for the stems.  

I also want to share this photo of a fun, whimsical quilt made by Wendy for her friend Irene, in honor of her birthday.

Irene is from the UK but has lived in the US for a long time.  She likes tea, sewing, her dog Dexter and her cat Popcorn.  Irene is also famous for her soup parties.  Wendy and Sandy made this quilt in the style of Mary Lou Wiedman's story quilt and did a fantastic job.

I should have taken close ups of the different details of the quilt.  The cat Popcorn is made of popcorn fabric.  Very cute!  And the dog is actually a replica of a photograph of the actual dog.  I have never made a photo quilt like this before (save for a self portrait I did years ago) and would love to tackle something like this in maybe the year 2020 when I am caught up with my applique projects.

And in non quilt related news, dad is here visiting and we took a very short weekend trip recently to Santa Barbara, CA and to Simi Valley, CA.

Here's dad at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.  This is a replica of President Reagan's oval office during his tenure at the White House.

This is the Marine One helicopter which flew President Johnson.

And here we are boarding Air Force One.

Interestingly, I was telling one of my friends from the quilt guild about our recent visit to the Reagan Library and she told me that her husband ACTUALLY FLEW THIS PLANE!  Her husband was an air force pilot who had served under President Nixon.  That is very exciting!  We will have to visit the Nixon Library one of these days.

One our way to Santa Barbara, dad and I stopped at Roxanne's A Wish and A Dream in Carpenteria.  What a fun quilt store!

They have a great selection of fabric, embroidery stuff and gift items!  I would love to come back and take my time shopping.  If you visit their website, you will see a sample of the wonderful items they carry.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall 2012

With the time change back from Daylight Savings Time, it suddenly got a lot cooler here in Southern California.  We also had a couple days of rain. 

Fall also marks the start of the new television season, a visit from my dad, travel or road trip with him, and a new applique project.

This year, I have decided to start on "Abundance". This is my first fall themed quilt. It is a Verna Mosquera pattern.  My friend Lynn attended her retreat a few years ago.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to join her but I did purchase the pattern and a kit with some of the fabrics she used.  I've completed a few blocks already.  So, I've decided to post them here as I complete them.  I started with a relatively easy block- the pilgrim's hat.

I am using wool felt for the berries on the twig.

Here are some strange gourds- the kind with the nubby growth that's gross and fascinating at the same time.  Has anyone actually cooked and tasted them?

And finally, a wishbone.

In case you are wondering, it took a couple weeks to complete these blocks.  I haven't really been tracking the number of hours it takes to complete an applique quilt.  I should do that just to see how long it actually takes.  

I am still working on 2 other projects- the Bordered Diamond quilt from the Kaffe Fassett workshop is on my design wall.  And I am still machine quilting the Berries and Bluebird applique top.  I like to work on 2 or 3 projects simultaneously and switch back and forth.  

Before I end today's post, I'd like to share some sad news.  Yolanda Radig, founder of the Orange County Modern Quilt guild, passed away from cancer last month.  She is OCMQG's first President and she has touched the lives of many people who will surely miss her.    Although I did not know her very intimately, I will always have positive memories of her.  Yolanda was generous, gracious, encouraging and always enthusiastic.  She was also a gifted quilter and I have admired her quilts and her color selection.  The image below is from her blog and it is a tribute and a reminder of a fearless warrior who will always be an inspiration to me.  

Good night, Yolanda.  It was a pleasure to have known you.  


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bordered Diamond Workshop with Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably

Last week, I was very fortunate to have attended a workshop with Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably.  It was held at a resort in San Diego and it was definitely a fun-filled day.

So much to tell and lots of pictures to share.  I was so excited to take this workshop.  I have been collecting Kaffe Fassett fabrics since 2001 and I have been holding back on cutting them because they are just too beautiful to cut.  I also own a few of his books.  Was I start struck?  Absolutely.

Let me start by saying that the workshop was almost cancelled at the last minute but Kim and Jac at Starry Night Hollow worked a miracle for this class to push through.  Kaffe and Brandon were supposed to arrive the evening before the workshop and they were flying in from Arizona to San Diego.  But because of the fog, they were forced to fly back to Arizona.  Weather cleared up a bit and they flew out again to San Diego.  But, they were still unable to land so they flew back to Arizona a second time.

There were no other flights to San Diego so they were almost forced to cancel the class.  But, Kim and Jac found them a flight to Orange County at 8:30 in the morning and drove them down in time for the 10:00 am workshop.  So, here's Kaffe and Brandon with barely 5 hours of sleep but they were fully committed to getting us through the workshop and having a good time.

First, a few house rules:  flash photography, sitting down and over-thinking are definitely not allowed.  We were not allowed to use flash because it was too distracting and hard on Kaffe's eyes, so some of the pictures are not of the best quality but you get the gist.  What was encouraged was singing, dancing and trading fabrics with other classmates.   We had the Beatles playing while we worked.

We were told not to pre-cut the diamonds ahead of time so that Kaffe could review our selection prior to starting.  Then we were instructed to work quickly and cover our design boards as fast as possible so that Kaffe and Brandon could go around and provide us some suggestions on fabric placement and replacement.

Holy cow!  I felt like I was on the Amazing Race.  Everyone was cutting fabric feverishly.  No time to think and over-analyze.  I was reluctant to cut into some of my stash but I'd rather have the fabric end up on my quilt than in a box for the next 20 years!  I was cutting fabric so fast I was seriously concerned about slicing off my finger or my wrist!

Kaffe and Brandon were both very helpful and friendly and gave us very good suggestions.  Some of my fabrics were voted off the board and some unexpected ones made it on. After a nice lunch on the patio, we worked some more.  By this time, we were a lot more comfortable "borrowing" and trading fabrics with other classmates.  I wish we all cut up 10 extra diamonds just so we can trade with others like trading cards.  That would have been fun.

So, an hour before the end of the workshop, we all had to stop working and Kaffe and Brandon took us around everyone's board and provided some critique on the unique qualities of each.  Here are some photos of everyone's board.  Some were on the more softer, pastel side and some were dark and smoky.  All were gorgeous!

Here's Kaffe giving his comments on my design board.

Here's a few more.

And finally, Kaffe and Brandon signed our books.  Isn't Brandon cute?  He's wearing a shirt made out of fabric he designed (Dapple) with Guinea Flowers ribbon trim.

Come to think of it, he sort of looks like a guy I dated 10 years ago.  But he didn't have Brandon's fun personality.  And here I am (looking really rough and tired at the end of the day).  Kaffe and Brandon called me Miss Pink.

A few people brought Show and Tell.  Aren't they just gorgeous and yummy?

Here's Kaffe's quilt from the book Simple Shapes Spectacular Quilts. 

I had such a great time and I can't wait to finish my quilt.  Kim and Jac did such a great job to make this workshop a success!  I would definitely take another Kaffe and Brandon workshop in a heartbeat!  But first, let's get this quilt done.