French Quilty Trip

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This past weekend I finally had the chance to attend the European Patchwork meeting in France or Le Carrefour Europeen du Patchwork.  Even though it was my first time here, it  was the 23rd year for the event.  I booked a hotel in Strasbourg and dragged my husband along for the weekend with promises of great French food and some sight-seeing in Strasbourg after.

So the show actually takes place in 4 villages in the Val d’Argent area of the Alsace which was only about an hours drive southwest of Strasbourg.  We concentrated our time in the village of Sainte Marie aux Mines.  There were 9 exhibition sites throughout the lovely little town as well as a huge vendor expo area.  The exhibition sites were churches and other public buildings so, for me, it was a unique way to see the quilts.

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The only drawback was that parking was hard to find with people streaming in from many different countries to these little towns.  We circled the town and were only able to find parking back at exhibition site #1 which felt like it was about 10 kilometers from the rest of the exhibition sites.  It wasn’t a problem when we got there and headed through town to see all the other exhibition sites but when we were finished and had to walk back to the car it was pouring rain and we were tired.

One of the featured exhibitions at this show were some Amish quilts.  It seems this area in Alsace is where the Amish started out way back in the late 1600’s/early 1700’s (I learn new things all the time).  Of course we know that they were later kicked out and landed in America where they became famous for their quilts (as well as other things).

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The Amish quilts were displayed in an old church.

Another interesting exhibit was of Ian Berry’s denim art.  Ian is a British artist who uses denim to create works of art.

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I’m so glad I got to see them up close because I had seen his work in a magazine and thought it was applique since he is often lumped in with quilters.  It’s not applique but layered fabric.  Definitely textile art and more 3D than it comes across in photos.  Really cool stuff.

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It always seems like the European quilters are into very modern designs and interesting concepts.

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There were lots of interesting “quilts” to look at.

 

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I thought this one was fun.  Traditional blocks on the right give way to something fun and different on the left.

It was a fun weekend in France and I’m so glad I finally made it to the European Patchwork meeting.

 

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Fabric Play

I’m supposed to be quilting the basket quilt.  I’m soooo close to finishing but it’s hot and I don’t feel like wrestling with it in my quilting gloves.  I decided I needed a day to just play with fabrics and try something new. (This is probably why I have so many unfinished projects!)

I bought a book last fall called “Wanderlust Quilts”  by Amanda Leins.  We were still living in Italy and the quilts in the book really spoke to me – they made me think of Italy and our travels.  Also, the book was on sale so I just could not pass it up.

I fell in love with one of the quilts in the book called Aqueducts.  It’s a small quilt of scrappy arches on a white background.  I think I finally have enough scraps to make it so I got started.  The book calls for making fabric out of scraps, or just basically just keep sewing fabrics until you get pieces big enough.  I looked at it and decided maybe it would be easier for me to paper piece bits together.

The long straight pieces I just sewed together and cut to the right size but the arches, I did a variation of paper piecing to save fabric and get the right shape.  I’m not gonna lie, this project created a mess!

So the large arches went together very easily.  I pinned them like crazy, used the slow speed on my machine with the needle down and just took it slow.  I’ve only finished one row of the large arches but they all turned out very nicely.

The small arches were another story.  They were just so tiny that getting them in the machine and around the curve felt impossible.  I did one on the machine and the rest, I sewed the background arch on by hand.

It’s coming together quickly.  I have these two rows done and have to do two more rows of large arches.

It’s just what I needed though – lots of fabric play!  I’ll share more when I’m finished.

Moose Quilt

I’m making a big push to finish my UFO’s or unfinished projects and today I checked one more off the list.  I finished my Morley J. Moose quilt.

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The top was all finished and I even had it stuck to some batting.  I just needed a back and to quilt it.  I had some bright yellow backing left over so I had to do some piecing to make it fit.  With the quilting, I got to use my darning foot or free motion foot for my Janome.  I bought it last fall but really hadn’t had a chance to use it.  It works great and this little quilt was small enough that getting it into my machine was no problem.

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I played around with some different motifs inside the moose and then did a stipple in the background and some lines around the outside.  The whole thing was just fun.

I had stored some strips with the quilt and I assumed those were the binding strips.  I put them together and thought they seemed a little narrow.  I thought maybe the pattern called for a 2 inch binding which is smaller than I usually use but sometimes when it’s a small piece, the binding can be smaller.  I still thought they seemed small as I was sewing them onto the quilt but then when I got to the end and measured for the seam to close off the binding; I realized these were 1 1/2 inch strips!  I was really wondering if it would work at all but by that time – the deed was done.  Well, it took some ironing and some pulling but I got the binding sewn onto the back.  It’s not pretty but since it’s a wall sized quilt, it won’t get a lot of handling.  I don’t know what happened there.  I can’t find the pattern anymore so I don’t know if it called for small binding strips or did I completely goof and cut them the wrong size?  Anyway it’s finished.

My friend gave me her easy method for adding a label and I followed her instructions.

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It was easy since you sew it in with the binding.  Plus, this white half-square piece of fabric just fell out when I was going through my unfinished projects – it was practically begging to become a label!

Baskets finished & Updates

I finished the Basket quilt-top yesterday and am washing the backing that came in the mail a couple days ago.  Hancock’s of Paducah was having a backing sale and it couldn’t have been a better time for me.  I found a old time-y looking neutral print backing that will be perfect for this quilt.

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Please don’t look too closely at the basket handles as I warned you that applique is not my thing.  I made it through 20 of these blocks and actually ended up hand appliquéing most of the handles.  It wasn’t too bad but getting them all in the same place obviously was beyond me.

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It’s a sweet quilt that will be a perfect lap warmer.  Now I’m trying to figure out how to quilt it.  I think I’ll just do some straight stitch-in-the-ditch lines.  I hope I can manage this size on my little sewing machine.

You might have noticed that I was able to hang my quilt to take photos.  I got my design wall put up!  I just made a little sleeve on the felt design wall I had and hung it up on a small curtain rod.  Easy!

I also wanted to share a cute block I made for a block of the month of my quilt guild.

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How adorable is this Pineapple block?  I thought about making another one with orange fabrics.  For every block you make, you get more chances to win all the blocks and then you can make a quilt out of them.  (I’m also tempted to keep it myself and make a little pillow.)

And last but not least; I wanted to update you on my Long Time Gone block of the month quilt.  This month I got the fabric to finish this last block for section 3:

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So now I almost have the left side finished.  I think I have to add section 4 to the bottom.  And then the whole right side is sections 5 & 6.

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Whoa!  Right?  It’s a lot to look at.

Anyway, besides all this; I was inspired by the backing sale to dig out some quilt tops and get them finished.  I’ve got fabric coming in the mail and am making plans to finish my unfinished projects!

Long Time Gone July BOM

I get so excited when I get my block of the month fabrics for this quilt – and also a little amazed at how small the envelope is!  The pieces are very tiny so there’s not much fabric here.

This month we’re working on Section 3 of the quilt and I was a little upset that we didn’t get the fabrics to do the whole section.  BUT, I did what I could and here’s an update:

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So this month we did the bow tie block and the courthouse steps blocks for Section 3.  I went ahead and cut my sashing and made the filler checkerboard pieces.  We’re missing a half square triangle block.

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I’m not sure if I’ve ever made courthouse steps blocks but it looks like these came out a little “wonky”.  I’m hoping that when the whole loud thing is put together, no one will notice a few crooked blocks.

These fabrics are so fun and bright!  I have to admit, I’m having so much fun with this block of the month that I signed up for another one that starts next month called “Forty Shades of Gray”.  It’s another bright and busy quilt that I just couldn’t pass up. (Maybe we don’t tell my husband?)

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These are the quilt pieces so far.  I feel like we’re about halfway through but the quilt is not halfway done.  I wonder how this will work out?

Sweet Basket Project

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When I was home for a visit last month, I hit the fabric shops and Jo-Ann’s for supplies.  I found a couple of new books full of promising projects.  I really don’t need new projects but, like any quilter, I have a couple quilt projects going at all times and about a million projects that I want to make!

One book I picked up is called “Civil War Remembered” by Mary Etherington and Connie Tesene.  The quilts in this book are mostly smaller, lap-sized or wall hanging projects that are a gorgeous use of reproduction fabrics on mostly traditional blocks.  They just look really homey and I fell in love.

IMG_1253 (2).JPGThis basket block is from the “Gather the Troops” quilt.  It’s made with reproduction pinks, blues, greens, yellows and browns.  It’s a very feminine quilt that I plan to make for a Christmas gift.

The only drawback of this quilt is the handle which has to be appliqued.  Maybe you’ve heard how I feel about applique?  It’s not my favorite thing.

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On this block, I hand appliqued the handle.  I machine appliqued the other blocks and some looked OK and some didn’t.  I wonder if it will be very noticeable if I do them all different?

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Surprisingly, the hand applique or needle-turned method wasn’t that much more effort than the machine applique method so I think I’m going to try to do the handles that way and probably go back and re-do these blocks.  The quilt has 20 baskets so I’ve gotten a good start.  Maybe if I can make 2 basket blocks a week I’ll have the quilt top done by the end of August and still have plenty of time to get it quilted and finished in time to ship for Christmas.  It sounds like a good plan.

 

Finished “Acorn’s Promise”

Well, I’ve finally finished this quilt for my Italian friend.  She asked me for it back in December and I had some setbacks along the way.  You might remember I made this quilt before but in a smaller wall-hanging size.  To make it larger, I just kept adding borders!  The original pattern used half trees along with the full-sized trees but I hate half quilt blocks so I modified it with some scrappy background blocks that add a little bit of depth to such large background pieces.

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I used left-over bits for the colorful border and it was quilted by a friend of a friend (thank you Janelle of E & J Quilts!) in Minnesota who did an awesome job with an all-over swirly wind pattern.

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Since the border was so large and there was so much brown; I thought I might add a piped binding to add just a little bit more color.  I couldn’t decide which color to go with though since there are so many colors in the trees.  My friend suggested I go with the scrappy theme I had already started.  I’ve never done a piped binding before so I had to figure out how to do this.

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Luckily, I still had some scraps left over so I put those together in strips using the same method I used to make the trees.

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This method is sewing the strips together and cutting them at a 45 degree angle.

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I found some tutorials online on how to make a faux piped binding and to get a 2 1/4 inch sized binding, you need 1 1/4 inch of your binding fabric and 1 1/2 inch of a contrast fabric.  I complicated things by having a pieced contrast fabric.  I found that all the seams made some waves and rough corners.  I’m not sure if I would do this again.

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You then sew these 2 pieces together.  Of course, it’s 10 miles long so it will take you forever!

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Then you fold and iron and you should have a nice little bit of your “faux piping” showing.  Like I said, I had a few lumps and bumps with all the seams.

I didn’t get many photos of this next part because it took me several days but getting the binding onto the quilt is a little different process than a usual binding.  You actually sew the binding to the BACK of the quilt with the binding fabric down and the contrast fabric facing up.  You miter your corners just like you would if you were sewing the binding to the top.

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Then you flip the binding over (ironing it helps) and then you’re supposed to basically, stitch-in-the-ditch to finish it.  Obviously, you would want a matching thread so that it’s not so visible.  This was one problem since I wasn’t sure what thread to use.  I tried a neutral but it was still too visible for me.  Luckily, our household goods came from storage in the states this week and I had my best invisible thread.

The invisible thread worked great although I didn’t like how it looked when I stitched in the ditch. I also found that when I did that, you could see my threads more on the back binding.  I ended up stitching closer to the edge of the colored piping which maybe defeats the whole “piping” thing but it just looked neater to me.  When I did this and used a neutral thread in my bobbin; my threads on the back blended in nicely with the backing fabric.

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I’m not sure for all the effort that it was worth it to do the piped binding.  I enjoyed trying something new and I’ll probably do it again although with just one contrasting fabric!

Long Time Gone update

I see that I’m a little behind on my blog posting.  But life has been crazy around here!  We’ve been traveling and had guests and our things came from the states so I’ve been unpacking.  Summer is great for being outdoors and I have to admit, my quilting has suffered.

I promise you I’ve been keeping up with my Long Time Gone block of the month even if I haven’t been posting them.

So this month I received the light grey fabric that the sashing is made from and I was able to put together some of the finished blocks.  This quilt is put together in sections since it’s basically a sampler quilt.  Then the grey fabric pulls everything together.

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This is section 1 which will be in the upper left hand corner.

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This is section 2 which will be right below Section 1, I believe.

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And here they are together.  There are five sections in this quilt as well as some checkerboard fillers so there’s still a lot to do.  I’m enjoying the block of the month as it’s not too much at one time.  I love the anticipation of waiting for my package to come in the mail so I can build my quilt a little bit more.  And believe me, there are tiny bits of fabric in these packages and I’m always sure they didn’t send me enough but it somehow it works out.

 

Long Time Gone BOM #2

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I’m sewing in my very own sewing room again and I was excited to get this month’s fabrics for the Long Time Gone block of the month.  This month we made the Jacob’s Ladder block and the strip of Pineapple blocks.  We’re basically finishing up the blocks for the upper left hand corner.

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at Pineapple blocks but I think I’m over that now.  These little blocks are 5 inches finished and there are 37 little pieces of fabric!  There are 16 of these blocks in total throughout the quilt, so this was only a taste.  I get to make more!

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This month while I was laying all the finished blocks out, I realized that I made last month’s half triangles block backwards or upside down or something.  My triangles are not going the way they’re supposed to.

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At this point, I’m not changing it and I don’t think it really matters.  The block has the correct measurements so it will fit in where it’s supposed to.  My quilt will just be a little different than all the others.  Still nice.

I’m already loving this bright, fun scrappy quilt!

Long Time Gone

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The new block-of-the-month quilt that I just started is called “Long Time Gone” by Jen Kingwell.  It sounds like my life right now!  I’ve been gone from this blog for a long time now because of all the events going on in my life.

We packed everything up in Italy (OK, it wasn’t that much) and we moved to Germany.  My husband had the opportunity to take a job here in Stuttgart where we were before he retired.  We’ve always loved Germany so we decided to go for it.  Things moved quickly after he said yes and the movers (yes, this company has movers!) came and got our stuff.

I really, really tried to figure out how to squeeze my sewing machine in the car but we had clothes and bedding and computers and it just wouldn’t fit.  I did bring my hand sewing and some other projects.

This block-of-the-month pattern and fabric came in the mail last week!  I signed up for it through the Homestead Hearth website.  It’s going to be a fun, colorful project.  There were a lot of small pieces in the bag this month which looks like how it’s going to be every month but I love that scrappy, sampler look.

I’m lucky because I can rent a sewing machine and space to work at the Arts and Crafts center on the base here in Stuttgart.  We’re still in temporary housing so it’s been nice to go there and do some sewing and meet other sewists, er sewers – some nice ladies.

The other project I brought with me are the Acorn’s Promise blocks that I was working on before we left Italy.  This is going to be a quilt for a friend there.

This is the second Acorn’s Promise quilt that I’ve made and it’s a challenging block but fun.  There are 5 trees in this quilt and so far, I have 3  1/2 finished!  Next week, we move into our house here and I’ll have my machine back and I hope to make faster progress.

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So that’s the update of my life and projects in case you’ve been wondering why I’ve been gone so long.  I hope to be back soon!