Framed

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

A Few of My Favorite Things

This year has been an interesting one for me.  Let’s just say that 2017 has presented me with lots of opportunities for growth.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful life, and I am very grateful for every aspect of it, both the chuckles and the challenges.  But I have found myself as this year is beginning to come to a close taking time for a lot of personal inventory.  Asking myself questions like, “What am I supposed to do now?”  And hearing myself say things like, “Well, that didn’t go the way I thought it would.”  Midlife crisis?  I dunno.  Maybe.  I think I thought I was too young for that, and that really that only happened to men, but of course neither of those statements are true.  We all have to reevaluate ourselves from time to time if we have any hope of making any real progress in life.

So, for the last week or so I have kind of put the breaks on a lot of things in my life.  Not permanently, but just long enough for me to slow down and think more clearly.  But just because I said, “Whoa, Nellie” on certain aspects of my life did not mean that the blows quit coming.  A client who will not forgive me.  Difficulty and hurt in a relationship in my family.  Watching someone I care about struggle, and knowing there is nothing I can do.  Making another really big, really embarrassing mistake.  And then there was the trip to Utah.

That I am not on.

When this trip was scheduled, I was anticipating having a very different list of things on my plate, and I knew that I really couldn’t take the time to go out west with my husband for a long weekend and camping and hunting trip with the family.  A few weeks ago it became obvious that things were changing and that I really did have time to go, but I also knew that plane tickets are pricy, and we really do plan those kinds of things pretty far in advance in order to keep our costs as low as possible.  It was just too late.

Dropping Jeff and a friend off at the airport was feeling a lot like salt being rubbed into the wound that has been 2017, but I am pretty much over that crap.  No, I was not happy about missing out on a chance to see kids, grandkids, in-laws, nieces and nephews.  No, I was not happy about missing out on clear, cool mountain air, campfire smells, dutch oven cooking and more stars than I used to think it was possible to see in one night.  But there are lots of things to love right here in my own backyard.  Lots of things things to counteract salt, and bind up a wound.

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Doughnut Dollies is my most favorite donut shop ever.  It is also 46 miles from my house.  Obviously, I can’t make a trip to Marietta, GA every day or even every week just for my beloved donuts, but I can once in awhile.  We live south of Atlanta, and south of the airport, so I began my trek north for the day.  I went straight to Doughnut Dollies from the airport, and I couldn’t have been happier about it.

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Like I said on Instagram, caramel goes pretty dang well with salt, and even better on a donut, so a salted caramel donut it was.  And an orange gingerbread one for the road.  I know the question begs to be asked, “Why is Doughnut Dollies the best?”  I love their hip, crafty and creative takes on my favorite pastry, and the shop itself is an absolute delight, but really the reason I love them so is the texture.  I love bread.  Soft, fluffy white bread.  These donuts are much more bread-like than most donuts, and I love that the donut itself doesn’t seem to be as sweet as others.  The sweet seems to be more in the add-ons, and I just really like the balance.  (This may also explain why I hate Krispy Kreme donuts, especially when they are hot.  It’s like just eating fried sugar.  Bleh.)  Plus, the peeps that work at Dollie’s are really nice, so that’s always a plus.

From Marietta, I decided to keep heading north.  This weekend is the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay, and Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega.  The weather is beautiful and finally starting to be a little bit cooler and drier, which around here is nothing but good news and puts a lot of people in a good mood and stirs up a desire to head to our version of the mountains.  A lot of people.  Knowing that this weekend is festival weekend up north, I also knew that it meant the apples are in, and it’s time to make applesauce, but I wanted to get up there before the crowds.  So, I plugged in Sybil and headed up the highway.

From the Atlanta area, I just take I-75 north to I-575, and stay on it until it ends and becomes GA-515.  The first apple places you come to in Ellijay are on the right, Panorama and Penland’s.  I have to be honest, I always stop here, but it’s not really usually to buy apples.  My husband’s favorite hot sauce comes from this place, and they don’t take phone orders and they don’t ship.  So I stock up on it, and a few other gift items for the holidays.  I did buy a peck of Arkansas Black, and of course, some apple cider donuts.  They are my second favorites behind Doughnut Dollies.  Every time I go there I am greeted by busloads of seniors headed to Ellijay for the day, and quite honestly, I think that is their biggest clientele.  I don’t have any opinions about Penland’s, as quite honestly I’ve never been there.  I just get what I come for at Panorama, and then move along.

I keep going north on GA-515, then turn right on GA-52.  This is where the majority of the apple markets and farms are located.  There are little bitty, no fuss places like Hudson’s Apple House, and there are larger markets complete with petting farms and hayrides like Hillcrest Orchards, and there are several in between.  It really just depends on what you are looking for.  When my kids were younger, we went to the bigger places more often because there is a bit of tourism and fun about it, but nowadays I really am just going for the apples. I realized on my drive up that it was the first time that I had ever made the drive without my family.  It made me a little sad, but then I gloried in the fact that I could do what I wanted without worrying about this or that, and I got over it quick.  Apparently that’s the name of the game.

I love Hudson’s Apple House.  It might be my favorite stop of all.  It is small, and located in what looks to be an old service station.  The family is lovely, and I always like to visit with them.  There’s no fuss.  Just apples.  And kindness.  I wanted a tart, hard apple, but not just a Granny Smith, so she offered for me to try a Pippin, which was delightful.  If my family and other close friends are reading this post, they are probably laughing at that pic of the partially eaten apple.  I hate biting into food like that because I feel like I get it all over my face and I’m sticky and dirty and need a shower.  But, she wanted me to try it before I bought it, so I did, and I loved it, but I was really glad I had wipes in the car.

My other favorite on Ga-52 is the B.J. Reece Apple House.  It is one of the bigger places, and is a little touristy, but seriously has a really great selection of apples.  I think you can also pick your own here, and they may have hayrides and things like that, but I don’t really pay any attention to it.  I’m just there for some serious apple shopping, a jug of peach cider, and maybe some produce.  I didn’t buy as much as I usually do this year, something I will explain in another post, but I did pick up some Braeburn apples, which I am looking forward to using.

If I had the kids with me, I would have continued on southeast on GA-52 and gone to Burt’s Farm.  I took the kids there many times when they were younger to pick out a pumpkin, or just to take photos with the rows and rows of pumpkins of every size and color.  When they were very small, it wasn’t as well known, and it was easy to park, and there weren’t a lot of crowds to contend with.  It is still gorgeous. and lots of fun, but it is also a popular destination for school field trips, and is often packed with people at this time of year.  I did debate about going over to Amicalola Falls just past Burt’s Farm to climb the stairs by the falls, just to see if I could do it and not feel like I was dying like I did the last time, but I opted for a different route. I still think I might go back up sometime this fall.  I feel those stairs challenging me.

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Instead, where GA-52 takes a sharp left to head towards Burt’s and the falls, I turned right onto GA-183 and followed Sybil’s directions back south and into Atlanta.  When I got to Intown Quilters I shared apple cider donut and apple joy with Sarah and the crew, and they shared fabric and fiber joy with me.  It lifts my spirits so much to be with creative friends and talk about our passions.  I love this shop, and it’s crew.  I never leave there empty handed or without inspiration, and yesterday was no exception.  We laughed and chatted, and even disagreed, and in the end I left with both my hands and my heart filled.  It was a good day.

Even though 2017 and I have been battling it out, I know that in the end I will prevail.  I’m totally watching fireworks on New Year’s Eve this year because while 2017 is going down in flames, I will live on.  This year may have beaten me up a bit, but I’ve lived long enough to know that bruises heal, even the ego type.  It is just a matter of time, and as my husband says, learning how to fall so maybe next time there are no bruises, or at least smaller ones that heal faster.

*squeal* Jen Kingwell is coming to Atlanta! *squeal*

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I first met Jen Kingwell a couple of years ago at Fall Quilt Market in Houston, TX.  She was quietly in her booth, surrounded by some of the most phenom quilts I had ever seen.  Circle Game caught my heart hard and fast.  Green Tea and Sweet Beans was there too.  I was just blown away by everything from the fabric selection to the execution.  And Jen.  She couldn’t have been more delightful to chat with.  I felt like saying to everyone I met, “Hey, did you see that Jen Kingwell lady?!?”  I know, totally professional.

At that time I had no idea that I would ever have a studio, much less the opportunity to host this hand-piecing, hand-quilting, crazy awesome Aussie designer for a workshop and trunk show!  Yeah, that’s right.  She’s coming here.  I die.

So, here’s the scoop.  Intown Quilters, the phenom quilt shop in Atlanta, and I have partnered up to bring Jen to town.  All workshops are $165, lunch included, pattern/book required, no machines, limit 20 attendees.  Trunk shows are $20, no supplies needed, limit 40 attendees.  Click on links to register online.  Here’s the schedule:

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Monday, Nov. 2, 10 am-5 pm, at Intown Quilters, My Small World (brand new pattern!)
Link to sign up: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=DAR2ANSPP9RVU

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Tuesday, Nov. 3, 10 am-5 pm, at Intown Quilters, Bring Me Flowers
Link to sign up: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=3QU2J9EYC3SJG

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Tuesday, Nov. 3, 7-9 pm, at Intown Quilters, Trunk Show
Link to sign up: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=LDURJX39T7QVQ

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Wednesday, Nov. 4, at Intown Quilters, Georgetown on My Mind
Link to sign up: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=GWSBBDNP7UNYS

spring fever

Thursday, Nov. 5, 9am- 4pm, at The Green Apricot, Spring Fever from Quilt Lovely
Link to sign up: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ebczqxdm6612087e&llr=kyej4ltab

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Thursday, Nov. 5, 7-9pm, at The Green Apricot, Trunk Show
Link to sign up: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ebd0g31m7cbf7733&llr=kyej4ltab

We began with a registration priority list, so these classes have already begun to fill.  Don’t wait to sign up, and if sign-ups are full, be sure to contact Intown Quilters (404-634-6924) or The Green Apricot (770-584-3498) for a waiting list in case of any cancellations, although registration is strictly an online process.  (You do not have to have a PayPal account in order to register via PayPal.)

Okay, so now that all of the nitty gritty is out of the way, is it okay if I just totally have a quilt geek moment?  Will you join me in a bit of a happy dance?  And maybe a little delightful giggle?

See you in November…

The grass is always greener…

What is it about “swapping” that makes us swoon?  I don’t watch a lot of television, but I hear some people even swap wives and such things from time to time.  I don’t get that, but I do get why quilters like to swap.  Surprises and challenges seem to light us up and get the creative juices flowing.  We have a tendency to believe that the stash on the “other side of the fence” is “greener” than our own.  I don’t know that that’s always true, but it’s kinda fun to have a look-see, and what better way than in a swap?

I haven’t been able to participate in any kind of swap in many years, so I was really excited when I managed to get hooked up with Brenda Ratliff of Pink Castle Fabrics.  She has a blog called Just a Bit Frayed, and she recently opened up a Scrappy 9 Patch Swap.  I was swift to respond and managed to get in, but it would seem that it is luck of the draw to see such things online and be able to respond in time to be able to get in on them.  I still haven’t figured out how to join an online Bee, but I am going to get there.

Anyway, I actually had a little trouble figuring out which bold, but not solid, fabs I wanted to use in my 9 patches.  I had batiks that would work, but in the end really just wanted an excuse to go shopping.  So, I headed over to Intown Quilters in Atlanta to see what I could get.  Here’s what I found-

9 patch swap 1Love it!  Perfect for making a simple nine patch with some serious pizazz.  Brenda recommended using a strip method to make the blocks, but I, of course, wanted to do it MY way.  Don’t judge me.  I won’t judge you for following the directions.  Anyway, I like the square or sleeve method for nine patches.  Billie Lauder has a YouTube video on this process- click on her name for the link.  But in the meantime, here’s a little info on how I made my nine patch blocks.

First, cut two squares, 1 1/2″ larger than your desired finished block.  In this case, our blocks are to be 6 1/2″ to send to the swap, which means 6″ finished.  So, I cut (2) 7 1/2″ blocks.

9 patch swap 2With right sides together, I sewed a 1/4″ seam on two opposing sides.

9 patch swap 3Next, I calculated 1/3 of 7 1/2″, which is 2 1/2″.  Starting from one of the sewn sides, I cut (3) 2 1/2″ sections.

9 patch swap 4This gave me two seamed sections and two loose 2 1/2″ strips, as seen below.

9 patch swap 59 patch swap 6At this point I sewed the loose 2 1/2″ sections to the two seamed sections, as shown.  When using this method, I always press towards one of the fabrics, in this case the red.  It helps with nesting later on.

If you stop here, you have opposite rail fences.  A note here- this method of nine patches makes two nine patches at once, but they are the opposite of one another.  You will see in a minute what I mean.

While matching seams, I lined up the two pieced blocks right sides together, like this-

9 patch swap 7I then sewed a 1/4″ seam on the edges of the blocks perpendicular to the seams I made previously.  Like this-

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Using my rotary cutter and ruler, I then made (3) 2 1/2″ cuts, starting at one of the seamed edges.  Which gave me this-

9 patch swap 9I then went through the same process as before, matching up the loose center sections with the appropriate seamed sections to create a 9 patch, like this-

9 patch swap 10And voila-

9 patch swap 11Pretty darn close to perfect, if I do say so myself.  I really like this method because I find that my nine patches turn out much more accurate. Not everyone will like this method, but it certainly is worth giving it a try!

To add to all of this, Intown Quilters is also doing a block exchange, which will work nicely as border blocks for this nine patch quilt, so I signed up for that one too!  Click here if you are interested in joining that one, it still is open.