Tybee Wave

Gratefully, my determination to work through the enormous stack of unfinished projects this year has not diminished, so I’m riding that wave as long as I can. It has meant very little fabric or yarn shopping. It has meant being realistic about projects I’ve started that I actually hate. It has meant revisiting skills I started to learn, but didn’t have time to refine. It has meant saying no, both to myself and to others. It has meant adding a real dose of self discipline to my creative life.

It has also meant a lot of reflection. Every unfinished project I put my hand to brings back a flood of memories. Why did I start this? What was I hoping to learn? What was I trying to say? And even what was I thinking?!?

I love this one so much, and it’s all mine. Yup. All mine.

I made these Wave Quilts using the Sizzix die by Victoria Findlay Wolfe at The Green Apricot Getaway at Tybee Island in February of 2017. I curated a bundle of beach solids to commemorate the retreat, and wanted to show the attendees a couple of different ways to assemble the Wave Quilt. At the last minute- as in waaaaay last- I got the great idea to swap or share squares with each other to put these quilts together. I have both good feelings and bad feelings about that. Good because I LOVE how those bits of fabric light up this quilt, just like those ladies lit up my week at Tybee. Bad because I allowed myself to be overwhelmed by hosting, and I’m pretty sure I never gave anyone a square of fabric from me. It’s a wave of humility.

This one reminds me of reflections on the water. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it at the time that I made it because it was meant to be a sample for the retreat. But when I laid it out to quilt it and contemplated different designs, I just kept thinking of the softness of the colors and the design and how it made me think of children at the beach. So this one is for our granddaughter Murphy to use when she comes to our house. She’s going to be a beach babe. I can feel it in my bones.

You’ll notice this Wave Quilt is put together a little differently. I feel that one could make each of the “squares” into a cat face. Or an owl. The other configuration makes me think of the ocean. This one makes me think of a lake. The other sand, this one boats. I decided that I couldn’t keep all of the Wave Quilts, so this one went to a local chapter of Project Linus. Hoping it brightens someone’s day.

The curves in the Wave Quilt are really very gentle, and it’s a lot easier to put together than one might imagine. But once it’s together, it has two curvy sides, and binding curves can sometimes be intimidating. Bias cut binding is the best way to go because the binding will bend with the curves rather than fight them. In the case of these two quilts, I chose to use single-fold continuous bias binding. Partly because it was appropriate with the curvy edges, and partly because I wanted to practice it more.

I talked about this kind of binding in a previous post, which you can read here. There really is more than one way to bind a quilt, and while one may lean more to one way than another, it really should depend on the quilt. I’m all about listening to the dictates of the quilt.

In the case of this configuration, the wavy sides of the quilt are not so gentle. The peaks are sharper than I like, and quite honestly, I didn’t want to deal with binding that.

So I cut them off. Simply done.

I’ve marked 21 projects off of my list thus far in 2018, and a couple of those were multiple small projects. I’ve begun 6 new projects, 3 of which are complete. I’m not even halfway to being caught up, but I’m a lot closer than I was a year ago, and more importantly I’m doing a pretty good job of not adding more to that list. I may have let it get away from me for a while, but I’m getting it back again.

Looking for Some Mojo

Mojo isn’t really the right word. It denotes magic and spells and charms and such. I don’t really need all that. I just need a little fire under my butt.

Nothing is wrong, and really life is pretty under control these days. But to be honest, that hasn’t been the norm most of my life, and I’m finding that it’s a different experience to keep motivated and moving forward without stress and fear pushing the pedal to the floor while I try to steer through life’s obstacle course. You know the law- an object at rest tends to stay at rest.

This doesn’t mean I’m doing nothing. Far from the truth. I’m just not moving as fast as I used to, and while I feel an increase of peace, I also find a decrease in excitement. Shouldn’t there be a balance?

I’m behind on a lot of projects. I think I’ve mentioned before that at the end of 2017 I made a list of my unfinished projects, which I am still not sure I recommend doing. I was abhorred at the number. And still am. To the point that I don’t even think about buying any supplies unless it’s related to helping me finish something I’ve already begun, and I certainly am not starting any new projects- unless it’s a gift and can be done fairly quickly from start to finish.

I’ve completed about 19 projects since I took inventory late last year, and some are pictured in this post. Some of those were new projects- begun and finished for a specific purpose such as gifts and the like.

But the list is still very long. Which is daunting. So, I’m writing this post to remind myself that really, I’ve been doing good, and marking things off the list. And that is something to be excited about.

So, Angela, if you are reading this, I am telling you to be encouraged and pick up the pace. A sense of accomplishment is important to you, so look forward to posting about the next list of finishes. You’re gonna be SO glad you did! And it’s going to feel SO good to give those good gifts to your kiddos and their families. Stay the course, lady. You’ve got this.

It’s a small, small world.

The quilting world sometimes feels like a secret favorite child of one of society’s mistresses. The world at large doesn’t seem to be too aware of us, and yet we toddle around the globe via the internet, and even cruise ships having the time of our lives. We chatter amongst ourselves about fabric lines and manufacturers and the latest shake-up in the industry. We gently stalk our favorite designers, and hoard fat quarters like they’re Beanie Babies. And how about shop hop events, guild meetings, friendly sew-ins, retreats, quilt shows and conferences? Over 50,000 people attend the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX each fall. Over 30,000 descend on the tiny town of Paducah, KY each spring for AQS Quilt Week. And while it’s tough to find the exact numbers, about 2,500 attend QuiltCon each February as it moves back and forth across the United States.

Depending on one’s perspective, those are big numbers or small numbers. Some are surprised there’s that much interest in what the world at large thinks is a “dying art.” Others are so immersed in the quilting world that they might think that number would be larger, and are shocked no one else in the grocery store is creeping up on Anna Maria Horner or Angela Walters for their autographs.

And then one enters the longarm quilting community. If people think the quilting community is relatively small, they should meet the longarm crew. Hello. We haven’t even been able to get the word “longarm” as one of Webster’s new words, and we’ve been using it for years, mildly annoyed by that red underline every time we type it. Never mind that autocorrect insists that we are seeing rather than sewing. And sewist needs to be a new word, too!!!!! But I have digressed.

When Juan was first delivered and set up in my studio, I found myself incredibly overwhelmed. I felt like my dealer was speaking another language. She spoke quickly and used terms I was completely unfamiliar with, and quite honestly seemed to assume that I knew a lot more than I did. When she left I cried. It was about as bad as bringing home my first child. I had that hard, tight feeling in my chest warning me that I had made a decision that I could not take back, and that I’d better grab my bootstraps and get it figured out. Fast.

I hardly spoke a word about how I was really feeling, and I spent a lot of time telling everyone how excited I was. And a part of me was excited, but it was a very small voice, and it took some work for that voice to grow in strength and confidence. Especially when it was mixed with voices from others, and even from myself, degrading computerized work, the brand of machine I bought and longarming in general.

I started to hear of online support groups. Then about magazines devoted to longarm machine quilting. Then longarm quilting support meetings. Then quilt shows focusing specifically on longarm quilting. Then retreats. And even cruises. Who knew?!?

In the last couple of years, I’ve narrowed the groups I participate in as I have found some work for me and some don’t, for a number of reasons. I’ve attended two retreats, Statler Southern Belles, both being hosted by Joan Knight and Anita Shackelford in the spring at DeGray State Park in Arkansas.

While the lodge accommodations are average and the food is meh, the scenery is incredible. It is a beautiful location for a gathering, and the staff are friendly and kind. But the location is not why we are here.

These retreats are the only quilting related event I’ve ever been to that we don’t touch a piece of fabric or a machine pretty much the entire time. Ninety or so of us pack into a darkened conference room for 2 1/2 days looking at projected computer screens and furiously taking notes.

Joan and Anita are remarkably professional, and are incredible educators. They know the software and the machine inside and out, and break down every topic to its bare essentials and then build it back up again. I could not do what I do without their leadership and tutoring. Attending these events has made all the difference in the world to my work. I’m very grateful, and would recommend this retreat to every Statler owner- it’s totally worth it.

Just like every educational event, not everyone has the same experience. Some have a-ha moments. Some get more confused than they were before they got there. Some get frustrated because they already know this stuff. Some get frustrated because they are lost just trying to keep up with the lingo.

There are shenanigans. Door prizes. Lots of candy and Diet Coke. Laughter. Groans. People who break the rules. People who are annoyed with those breaking the rules. Applause. Guest speakers. Show and tell. Cake. And inside jokes.

There are evening gatherings that include comparing notes on everything from running a longarm business to what to do with grandkids over the summer. We pick the brains of our patient hosts and guest designers, as well as each other.

Some stay up late, but my brain is so tired at the end of the day, and quite honestly I’ve hit my social wall, that I’m grateful to make my way to my room. I also head there at lunchtime so that I can quickly work up some of what I just learned on my laptop before I forget it.

It is nothing like what I expected it to be. It’s a whole different world that I was never aware of in my 20+ years of quilting. And I still feel like I’ve only skimmed the top of it. There is SO much to learn- so many ways to progress, develop and grow.

And so many people to meet and learn with in this small, small world.

Something old. Something new.

I love this little quilt. I love the colors. I love the fabric. I love the maker. And I love what I got to learn from it.

Several years ago- more than I can remember- I participated in a quilt guild’s brown bag challenge. If I remember correctly, each member of the guild put 5 fat quarters in a brown bag and turned them in to a coordinator. The coordinator then redistributed the brown bags, and each maker had a few mo this to make a quilt top from the contents of the bag.

My brown bag ended up in the hands of a sweet friend and meticulous quilter, and I was thrilled with what she did with my fabric selections. Her curved piecing was impeccable, and I thought it was great use of the prints.

Like so many of my own projects, it got packed away and added to a long list of UFOs. A few months ago I actually went through all of my “stuff” and took an inventory of all of my UnFinished Objects and was horrified and embarrassed, so I’ve been pretty committed to finishing things off. The added benefit is that one of my major motivations is a sense of accomplishment, and as I finish each project my spirits are lifted and creativity is free to flow.

Another benefit is that I find that I’ve learned a lot since the project before me was first made, and I love applying new skills to those older projects. This time it just so happened that I had just learned a new-to-me binding technique, and this quilt was small enough that I was willing to try it without it being a huge commitment.

For years I thought that continuous double-fold binding was the only way to bind a quilt without folding the backing to the front. I’ve learned that is not at all true, and there are several more options. It really just depends on the end goal on which one works best, although most people pick one way of doing it and just stick to it. Me? Not so much. I like variety, and understand that I may not want the same finish on every quilt.

I recently attended the Southern Belle retreat for owners of Statler machines and hosted by Joan Knight and Anita Shackelford. We learned tons about our machine software, but there were also demos and discussions on other aspects of quilting. One of those was a lecture and demonstration of binding presented by Anita. During this, I learned about continuous single-fold binding, which I’ve never seen done before.

Two of the major differences from the continuous double- fold binding in familiar with are that continuous single-fold is cut at just 1 1/4″, and the length of the binding is not pressed in half. The binding is machine seamed on the diagonal, and machine attached (right sides together) to the front of the quilt.

The binding is then flipped to the back, and the raw edge is folded halfway down with a hard finger press as it is hand stitched to the back of the quilt. I found that it worked best to work about 2-3″ out from my needle and press towards where I was working. Otherwise the binding can start to warp.

Stitching is standard 1/4″ blind stitch with a single thread. Corners are also standard 90 degree with flaps sewn down both on front and back.

What I loved about it is that the binding, and especially the corners, are remarkably flat and tight. It was a relaxing process to me, but I happen to LOVE binding quilts. The negative was that quite honestly, it took me twice as long to do because of having to stop to finger press every couple of inches. I may see if I can tweak that process next time.

And so, there it is. Something old- a marinated UFO, and something new- a fabulous technique!

#520in2018

A couple of years ago I had a goal of doing 520 hours of service in a year. I didn’t make it, but it was still awesome. Then I got distracted, and even felt like people thought I was bragging with the hashtag. After reassessing a few things, I’ve decided to return to this idea. I’ll be posting my progress along the way, not as bragging, but more as accountability, but also an easier way to keep track of it myself as well as let others know that I’m available to help if I am able.

What does this mean to you? It means that I am offering up to 10 hours of free quilting each month. No strings attached, but a few rules to keep things fair.

1- Edge-to-edge/panto quilting only. I will show you some options and you can choose which you like best. Once the quilting has begun, you can’t change your mind, so make sure it’s what you want!

2- The Green Apricot/Angela Gubler are not responsible for costs of materials- backing, batting and thread. They either need to be either provided by the client or purchased from TGA.

3- Shipping costs are solely the responsibility of the client.

4- TGA is not responsible for loss or damage to the quilt top or quilted quilt.

5- To submit your quilt for this offer, simply send at least two pictures of the quilt top- one of the whole top and the other a close up, and the measurements of the quilt to thegreenapricot@gmail.com. You do not need to send any info about why you are submitting the quilt. I will respond to let you know if I will be able to schedule your quilt.

6- If I am able to fulfill your request, I will schedule your quilt for quilting, and it is your responsibility to get everything to me by that date. I am using a scheduling system for quilting and have limited time slots available, so you may lose your spot if I do not have everything in hand on time.

I’m looking forward to a wonderful new year, and I hope you are, too!

Framed

 

 

 

8591b_20171005152410

Recently I was super excited to get my hands on the latest installation of the Ghastlies fabric from Alexander Henry.  Intown Quilters Fabric & Yarn is one of my favorite shops, and I was in a hot hurry to get up there and grab some before it was all gone!  I have managed to miss out on it in the past, but that was not going to be the case this time.

As you can see from the sampling above, the line is absolutely fabulous.  There are actually two color ways, but the difference is subtle, and I still liked to mix them.  One is kind of half the color intensity of the other, if that makes sense.  There is a perfectly chilling pastoral, a delightfully harrowing panel and a number of accomplices in the form of supporting fabrics.  I am just crazy over the moths and webs.

img_8377

But let’s be honest.  Sometimes fabric like this is hard to cut into.  What exactly to do with the panel?  The print rarely straightens up well to be able to cut an actual square, even though the panel is made of squares.  And, there’s no seam allowance between squares, so losing some of the print is bound to happen.  The pastoral print is fun and large, but where to begin?  How big to make the blocks?  What if I cut off someone’s head?

Well, no worries.  After all, these are the Ghastlies.

img_8104.jpg

I didn’t have a pattern, but Sarah at IQ and I were chatting and we came up with a bit of a scheme, and I headed home with fabric in hand to get to chopping.

img_8109.jpg

In my haste to start whacking away at the Ghastlies, I forgot to get a good plan about how to cut those panel squares.  I needed some for one size of square, and some for another, and it was getting difficult to get enough of the larger squares.  Then I realized that if I cut the panel in the middle along the print from selvage to selvage and worked out from there, I would have more to choose from for the larger blocks.

Once I had accumulated enough of the larger squares, I cut into the remnants of the panel for smaller squares- which left for lots of opportunity for selective chopping.

img_8110.jpg

Then I was ready for block assembly.  This thing was taking no time at all, and I was loving every macabre moment of it.

img_8117.jpg

The squares were all assembled, but something was awry, and it wasn’t just the lighting in my living room or lack of quality from a camera phone.  First, it was way tiny.  Second, well, the delight of drama was a bit lacking.

img_8118.jpg

So, back to IQ, and back to plotting.  I ended up using both color ways of the line, and put a little more thought into placing the darker fabrics to highlight a little more contrast.  After all, what good is a mystery without a bit of conflict?

But I still found that the pastoral blocks were blending into the background more than I wanted, so I decided to highlight just a few of them using a technique I learned several years ago and has come in handy a few times.

Sometimes I need just a thin line to define a space, or break up a design.  A very thin line.  Like a 1/4″ line.  But without adding any size to the original block.  Now, admittedly, I am not a perfect quilter, in any sense of the word, so the idea of cutting the desired area down by 1/2″ all the way around, then cutting a strip 3/4″ and attaching it with a perfect 1/4″ seam and keeping all and all straight and squared up is a bit daunting to me.  Maybe even terrifying.  Disturbing.  Unnerving.  (Better stop before I run out of adjectives.)

So, this is how I do it.  I leave the block the original size.  I cut a 1″ strip of the framing fabric.  I use a 1/2″ seam allowance to attach the framing fabric to either side of the block.  At this point I make a choice to either cut away the excess 1/4″ in the seam allowance, or leave it in for a little extra bulk in the frame.  I left it in this time, but Juan the Gammill Camel (my longarm machine) was not happy with me for doing it.  Then I attach the framing fabric to both the top and the bottom of the block, again using a 1/2″ seam allowance, and then either cutting away or leaving the excess.  It finishes nicely for me, and to me is easier than fiddling with a thin piece of fabric and a thin seam allowance.

img_8377

Having said all of that, when the gang at Intown Quilters and I got to talking about it and decided for a pattern’s sake to write it up a little differently.  So, if you pick up the kit or the pattern for A Ghastlie Parquet from IQ either in person or online, you’ll see a different way of doing it, but you’ll also know the secret of how it actually came about.

Once the top was done, and I swear it took just as long to write this blogpost as it did to make the top, it went straight into Juan’s arms.  Juan and I discussed our options a bit, but really, it was decided pretty quickly that we wanted webs.  But not just regular old standard webs.  We wanted cool webs.  And I found them at Urban Elementz.

spiderweb-with-spider

It quilted up quickly, and before I knew it the binding was on and voila- the Ghastlies were framed and on their way to the holding cell at Intown Quilters for your viewing pleasure.  Bwahahahahahahaha…

Always Watching

img_8168-e1509022930502.jpg

I was so excited for cooler weather that I started scanning Pinterest for fall decorating ideas in September.  When it was still in the upper 80’s around here.  Like way hot.

img_7763.jpg

In fact, I got to it and bought pumpkins at the state farmers market and started decorating inside the house.  I knew it was a bad idea to put them outside, but I figured they’d be good for a while inside.

img_7769.jpg

Well, as of this week I am down to just a handful of pumpkins as they have all started to rot.  I am sure I was supposed to do something like wax them or whatever, but really, I’m not worried.  It just means an excuse to decorate again.

Anyway, in the midst of my prowling on Pinterest, I found a cute tutorial about making an eyeball quilt block from Happy Sew Lucky.  You can click here to see the tutorial and the inspiration for my Always Watching pillows.

When I saw the blocks and tutorials I started to wonder if I could do something similar using the Creative Grids Log Cabin and Curvy Log Cabin Trim Tools.  I didn’t want a whole quilt, but I thought it would be kind of fun to have a few sets of eyes looking at you from the couch when you came in the front door.  Or greeting you at bedtime.

I cut strips from black and white fabrics, and for this particular pillow I used the 6″ Curvy Log Cabin Trim Tool and followed the instructions for strip size and for cutting the center block, or the pupils.

Usually when making Log Cabin blocks I make sure that as I add strips I rotate the blocks in the same direction, but in this case I wanted the eyes to be a mirror image of each other, so I rotated one clockwise and the other clockwise.  Following the directions on the tool, I trimed to Round 1.

Continuing on to Round 2, I added black, as I wanted my eyes to be very simple- just an eyeball with a pupil.  I’m thinking I might do it again and add an iris, but that may be a project for another day.

I like crazy eyes, so I just turned them around a bit and added just enough black all the way around to make a 12 1/2″ pillow cover.  I played with the idea a little more and made some not-so-scary eyes, which were also fun.

img_8165.jpg

Again, the goal was to keep it pretty simple, so I layered the block with a piece of batting and just quilted around the pupil and the inside of the eyeball.  I then threaded my loose threads to the back and tied them off.

I wanted to make these as pillow covers because I like the idea of being able to change out the pillows around the house, but don’t like the idea of storing actual pillows that aren’t in use.  Aint nobody got space for dat.

I made my own pillow forms as I have plenty of materials around to do it.  I just have to remember what size I am supposed to make the pillow covers.  Hence a blog post.

I picked up this super cute Halloween fabric at Intown Quilters when I was in Atlanta recently.  I didn’t want the back of my pillows to be boring, and this was perfect!  I originally thought I wanted to do an inset zipper like you would do for a pocket in the lining of a bag, but in the end decided that it would be easier to get the cover on and off of the pillow if the zip went from edge to edge.  I had already cut the fabric into 12 1/2″ when I decided to do this, so it wasn’t exactly right after the zipper was installed, but it was good enough.  Next time I would cut the back to be 12 1/2″ wide and 13″ long for seam allowance in the zipper.  I cut the back fabric straight across at 3 1/2″ down from the top in order to install the zipper.  I used a 14″ nylon zipper that was easily sewn through and cut to fit.  I then used 2″ binding to finish it off, sewing the binding to the back of the pillow cover by machine and to the front by hand.  It took an afternoon to make all three pillows covers and the pillow forms, so I feel like I could knock out a few more pretty easily.  I think I need at least two more, but I really think I will end up going for seven in the end.  Maybe next year!