Monday, May 31, 2010

Red, White and Blue

Patriotic Road
Originally uploaded by lollyquiltz
On Memorial Day, a special thank you to all the service men and women who have died to protect our freedom.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Baskets Quilt

A newly decorated bedroom with chocolate walls and candy pink accents could certainly use a new quilt to add a little pizazz, don't you think?
Hm mm...., wonder who I know that would want something like that?
Could it be my favorite, just-turned-four-year-old little girl?

My grandchildren all seem to enjoy getting a new quilt from their Lolly. When I gifted this latest creation to Haven this morning, she gave it a big hug and acted like it was the best present in the whole world! Wouldn't it be great if she became a quilter someday?
I know one grandmother who would be really pleased to pass along such a fun hobby!

Are you passing on your love of quilts and fabric?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Late Nights

Do you ever have nights when you can't sleep so you think, "I might as well get up and do something constructive!"? If you can empathize, then welcome to my world till 3 a.m. the last two nights.  I didn't drink too much caffeine and it wasn't hot flashes, although sometimes those are the sources of my insomnia.
  No, this time my sleeplessness has been brought on by mind boggling, raw sadness for one of my best friend's loss of a four year old grandson in a tragic death. The words are hard to even form, but just in case it could save another child's life, I will tell you.  He died from suffocation when his head was caught between the mattress and the safety rail on a wooden bunk bed. So, please, if you, or anyone you know, have children that sleep on the top bunk, be certain that there is no way for their little body to fall between the mattress and the rail while they are sleeping.
  I can't sleep because my mind won't stop. So, I get up and sew......and pray.
Here's what I've been working on:
First, I made blocks for Shaina and will just barely get them in the mail to meet the May 31 deadline in the Nittany Block Party.  Shaina wanted liberated stars in fabrics she provided. I loved working with the aqua and orange color scheme. What a fun quilt this will make.

You probably thought that I had forgotten about the special project that I was working on last week for a very special person.  Nope, didn't forget.  I just had to put it aside to do fun things like empty sodden boxes in my basement; plant flowers that have been waiting for two weeks in their little plastic containers while the rain poured down; have a sleep over for my grandsons; and recover from a 24-hour bug.  But now, I  finally got back to my brown and pink project. The late night sewing marathon got me all caught up.

I decided to quilt the wall hanging on my Bernina, so I had to get the layers all put together after I finally got the borders added.  This step in the quilt-making process is not my favorite, but I have found that if I am diligent about stretching out the backing on a table or floor and taping it down so it is very square and tight, it makes for a quilt without any puckers in the finished product.
(If the quilt is larger than my table, I pin it to my carpet with straight pins since I don't have a large wooden or tiled floor to tape to.)  Carpeting works just as well, but is kind of hard on the pins....and my knees! I then layer on the batting and smooth it out.  Finally, I smooth, smooth, smooth the quilt onto the batting and start in safety pinning the three layers together. When I'm done pinning, I remove the tape and am ready to quilt.

My late night quilting was soothing and healing as I stitched and prayed for my friends to find hope and healing in the days ahead.

I added more quilting detail than I had originally planned...but like the way it turned out.  Here's some of the view from the back. *Note: lighting at 3 a.m. is not great for picture taking! The only thing left to do is add the binding.............................
I got that accomplished this afternoon, so I'm ready to put up my feet, drink some decaf tea and watch the season finale of CSI New York as I hand stitch the binding to the back.
Tomorrow I'll show you the front and let you in on who gets this special quilt.

Are any of you awake in the middle of the night?  What do you do instead of "just laying there?" Surely, I'll sleep tonight.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quilt Festival Fun

 Have you heard about the Quilt Festival?  Since I for one loooovvvee a quilt show, this will be so much fun!  I'll tell you about the quilt that I decided to enter, then take a look at others here.          Several years ago, right after I first discovered quilting blogs, I came upon a blog by the name of Quiltville.  You may be familiar with Bonnie Hunter and her great ideas for using your stash to make scrap quilts.  Her blog features many free patterns to try as well as ideas for stash management. At one point, one pattern turned into an online "mystery quilt" series.  I was hooked right from the start.

  Over the next couple of years I participated in four of Bonnie's quilt mysteries. She gave us the rough fabric requirements, urging us to try to use what we had in our stash.  Then, over the next days, and sometimes weeks, she led us through the steps to make a pieced jewel of a quilt.  All along, we never knew what the finished quilt would look like until the final "reveal". 

 Such excitement, I'm telling you!  Bonnie set up a special site for mystery quilters to post pictures of their progress.  I loved looking at what fabrics everyone was using. The quilt I am showing you today is the last mystery quilt that I created with Bonnie.
    It is probably my favorite of the four that I participated in.  Bonnie called the pattern Double Delight. My rendition is called Peppermint Delight because the colors remind me of peppermint candy somehow.

Bonnie loves small pieces in her quilts and is especially partial to using 1.5 inch strips to piece little 9 patches. 

For now, I am thinking that my career as a mystery quilt maker is probably over , but it sure was fun and I have four lovelies made with scraps from my stash.  That means room for more fabric. ......Right?!
                    Have fun feasting on the eye candy at the Quilt Festival!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lessons learned

I'd been wondering where those quilts were.  Oh, and the photo albums as well.  When we moved into this house almost exactly three years ago, I soon realized  that I didn't really have as much space to store things.  That's the excuse I'm giving anyway....the excuse for leaving unpacked boxes in my basement for three years! Well, long story short, I now know which boxes contained those little quilts and scrapbooks.  They were the boxes at the bottom of the pile against the far wall.  The ones with stacks of more boxes in front of them containing wall art, games, and whatnot. They were the boxes standing in 4 inches of water after a week of nonstop rain when our sump pump decided to stop pumping but forgot to tell us for about 24 hours! You know where I'm headed here......... It was not a pretty site...... A basement full of water and a woman with her own waterworks at the realization of what she'd lost. My pain, though, is nothing compared to those in the South who have had so much flooding earlier this month.

We ended up taking the precious photographs out of the albums and laying them onto bedsheets strewn around the house.  My husband and I worked till 1:30 in the morning prying the pictures off of the pages before they were permanently adhered to the album sleeves.  The next morning, the photos seemed like they will be okay....just need a new home.  (I won't be spending my time doing fancy scrap book pages again, I know that.) 
 The lesson here.......NEVER store photos in a basement in anything other than a plastic, waterproof tub!

The quilts.  Well, some may have to be tossed.  The mildew has already set in on some of them and the colors, especially reds, bled onto each other.  It's a shame, really,  as a few of them were even hand quilted in my early quilting days before machine quilting became popular.  I'm not in love with the quilts anymore because my style has changed over the years. Country was really "in" back when I made these wall quilts.  One is a teaching sampler that I used for beginning quilters. Still..... 
The lesson here.......NEVER store quilts in a basement in anything other than a plastic, waterproof tub!

           I've learned my lesson! Please, listen up friends. Don't be a dunce like me!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blocks for Nikki

I made this block for Nikki today.  The center fabric is the only requirement that she gave the quilters in a new virtual bee that she started up for the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild.  We are called the Kansas City Scrappy Bee.  I'm a little ahead of the game with Nikki's block as June is her month, but she sent me the fabric last week so I decided to do the unthinkable and be early for something for one time in my life! It was fun to make....I hope she likes it.

Nikki gets more done than anyone I know.  I wish that I had her energy.  One of her most honorable accomplishments is organizing quilters to make blocks and quilts for the Quilts of Valor program.  The Blue Valley Quilt Guild in Kansas City, of which we both are members, has made over 90 quilts for this effort.  Without Nikki's passion, it would not have happened I am certain. I can't even imagine how many hours she has invested.  Knowing how deeply she feels about QOV, I was not surprised when she asked the KC Scrappy Bee gals to each make a 12 inch square for QOV as our May block.  She gave us the pattern and a piece of red fabric to be used, asking that it be a patriotic block.  I finished this block a few days ago and will be giving it to Nikki for the quilt.

Virtual bees are a great  way to get to know quilters from all over the country and world, even.  It is also challenging and fun to work with new patterns and fabrics that someone else enjoys.
If you haven't tried it yet, what are you waiting for?! Here's a place to start.

 I thought I would give you a little taste of a small project I am working on as a gift for someone very special.  I'm having a lot of fun designing and making it, even though I am in a bit under the gun to get it finished in the next few days.

Back to work!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Asterisk Crazy

Posted by PicasaWhen Mrs. Schmenkman mentioned an asterisk quilt a few weeks ago, I had to look.
Boy, did I like what I saw.  I've been crazy for asterisks ever since.  Thank you so much, Amy, for sending me on this quest to create some asterisks of my own to send to the gals in my virtual bee.  The 3X6 Sampler Block Bee is a group of quilters divided into groups of 7.  There are 10 groups, so 70 quilters are participating in this type of bee alone.  It is called 3X6 because we each have 3 months to create 6 for each of the other people in our group.  We can choose any block we want to make and then create it in the color schemes decided on by each participant.  The blocks above are my addition to this round of creations. Isn't it fascinating to see how different the block looks in everyone's various color combinations? I love the variety.
Some of the color schemes stretched me and I found myself enjoying working with colors I wouldn't normally put together like red, purple and gray or green, yellow and gray. 
I didn't really know how to make an asterisk block but I figured I could insert strips of fabric into a square to create the star effect.  I told you about that concept in my last post here.
After beginning to work on these blocks, I learned that others love this fun block as much as I did. So much so, in fact, that Dana from Old Red Barn Co. is featuring asterisks as the next quilt-along, which will begin in June.  If you'd like to make a whole quilt using this block, then you should definitely join the quilt-along.  I'm wondering if Karen uses the same concept as I did to make her fabulous blocks.  She'll be teaching us how she did it and guiding the fun.
If you would like to try a block using insert strips like I did, here is a quick lesson:

I decided to make a 9" block bordered by 1.5" strips to create a 12" finished block.  The first thing I did was cut a 10" square and divide it in half on the diagonal.

Then I inserted a 1" strip of contrasting fabric, being careful to center the strip.  My strip was about 15" long.

Repeat the steps to add another diagonal strip in the other direction.

Once the diagonal strips are finished and pressed, the next step is to cut the block in half vertically, being careful to cut in the center of the X. Add a 1" strip.

Cut the block in half again and insert another 1" strip.

Be sure to center the strip on both sides by creasing the strip to mark the center and pin it in place,checking the placement before sewing.

Pressing the seams open after inserting each strip helps the block to lay flat.  On the last strip, I pressed the seams to the center to avoid bulk where the seams all come together in the middle of the block. After pressing, I squared my block to 9.5".

Here's my finished block after adding 2" strips to the asterisk to create the borders.

There is just something special about an asterisk, don't you think? It's even fun to say!!
Maybe I should think about joining in the quilt-along too...............................
Wouldn't a bunch of these be cute together?

Monday, May 3, 2010


I have favorites.  Do you?  Breyer's vanilla bean ice cream with raspberries on at TJ Maxx and Marshall's......sitting on the deck in the perfect spring weather (like today)......
oh, wait.  This is a blog about quilting.  Okay, sitting on the deck in the perfect spring weather (like today) thumbing through one of my favorite quilting books: Thinking Outside the Block by Sandi Cummings.
I don't own this book, but I sure wish I did.  I have checked it out from my Quilt Guild library a number of times.  There's always something that inspires me when I browse through the pages. I admit to a big appetite for quilting books and have a nice library.  Most of them, I've never made a quilt out of......... I just look at the pictures.  This book is recipes for making a cookie cutter quilt just like the author's.  Instead it contains ideas, how-tos and eye candy for your own interpretation.  This is the best kind of book in the quilting book world, I think.

The first time I checked out Thinking Outside the Block was several years ago. (The book was published in 2004, so has been around awhile.)  My second grandson "needed" a quilt for his nursery, and Lolly (that's me) hadn't made him a proper one yet. Enter Sandi's book and the idea of inserting one inch strips of fabric into a block to add interest.  Here's what I did.........The simple Snowball quilt takes on the look of Tinker toys with the fabric strips inserted into the border.
Tomorrow is the quilt guild meeting.  The book is due.  My favorite will have to go back.......
Until the next time I check it out! In the meantime, I'm working on another idea with inserted ya later!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

X Marks the Spot

It is finished!  Oh, and how I love it!  I'll  tell you, this will really be a sacrificial gift. I know now that I will be wanting to make another X-Block quilt using scraps plus charcoal  and white Kona. The border on this quilt is a colorful children's print depicting jungle animals.  It amazing how well the fabric picks up all the colors in the blocks. It's called Safari, So Good.  Isn't that a great name?
This quilt is one of 30 going to New Hope Homes, an orphanage in Rwanda.  I wish that I could deliver it personally!                                                                                                                         
The straight line quilting  is done in charcoal thread.  I use Essential Thread from Connecting Threads for piecing and quilting.  It is nice quality thread at a great price. A special thanks to Sherri for coming up with the design for this quilt and passing it on.
X marks the Spot right over my heart for this quilt!