Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Favorite Things

Are there things in your studio that you use all the time? Books you'd never purge from your library? Tools you can't live without? Well, here are five of my all-time favorites:

#1: Piecing: Expanding the Basics by Ruth B. McDowell.

I've ALWAYS wanted to take a class from this woman and still do, even though I am comfortable using her technique for complicated pieced quilts. That being said, I still think there is loads to learn from her in a personal workshop.

This book is one I consider to be a classic. Her instructions are easy to follow and very detailed...a big help for this kind of project.

My agapanthus quilt is constructed using this technique.

#2: The Quilted Garden by Jane A. Sassaman.

Jane's book is another must-have for my library and another teacher I would love to take a class from in the future. The tag line for her class is "for the drawing impaired and the tragically literal." Although I feel less drawing impaired with a drawing class or two under my belt, I'm always fighting against my nature to be "tragically literal" (in my work, anyway).

Her machine appliqué technique results in nicely turned-under seam allowances - a look of which I am particularly fond.

#3: Clover Patchwork Pins

In a word - fabulous! These pins are super-fine, extra sharp, and have durable glass heads that won't melt under the iron. They truly have no equal (at least in my opinion).

#4: Fiskars Softouch Microtip Scissors

I think I first saw these scissors mentioned on Melanie Testa's blog, but I can't be sure. Anyway, since I had recently purchased a nice pair of Gingher embroidery scissors, I couldn't justify another pair of scissors, so I put them on my Amazon wish list. Low and behold, my mom sent them to me recently "just because." They are now my everyday scissors. They are coming in especially handy for snipping curved seams and extra threads as I stitch the agapanthus. (Are you tired of me talking about this quilt yet? Well, it's occupying every available minute of my spare time, so hang in there!)

#5: Aurifil Thread

My friend, Rose Momsen, first turned my on to this thread and my friend Keri continued the push. It is GREAT for piecing - almost zero lint - and the thread is so fine (yet strong) that bobbins seem to last forever. I haven't had an opportunity to quilt with it yet. I usually prefer thicker thread for quilting, so this will probably stay as the everyday piecing thread.

Those are my top five right now. I wonder what they will be next year?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bulletin Boards

Karen at Studio Notes blog recently posted a picture of her bulletin board after reading the post of another art quilt blogger. I think it's fun to see what other people find inspiring enough to keep in front of them 24/7. My bulletin board changes periodically (probably my Libra nature). Right now it has my show ribbons, cards that I find inspiring, various gifts and small works of art from friends, photos to mull over for new projects, etc. I also have my supply list for Carol Taylor's class at Art Quilt Tahoe in November. Keep it going, now: What's on yours?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Very Funny (At Least to Me)

You Are a Cadbury Creme Egg

You're the type that stole little brother's easter basket so that you could have MORE CANDY!

My mom and my brother will mostly get this joke. You see, one of my all-time favorite commercials is the Cadbury Egg commercial with the real bunny making the bock-bock-bock chicken sounds. I don't think they run them any more; I haven't seen one in a long time. It always made me crack up laughing!

I love Easter candy: jelly beans (especially the black ones!), robin's eggs (the chocolate covered malted ones), and marshmallow Peeps. I'll trade the chocolate bunny for any of the above. My MIL always buys me Peeps because she knows they are my favorite - I luck out because nobody else will eat them! And even though I'm on a diet right now, I did indulge in two Peeps and a slice of a See's Candy Bordeaux Easter egg (my favorite kind of chocolate).

Hope your Easter was a hoppy one. Ha!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Deadline

I'm thinking about entering this quilt in Houston this year. I thought I had until the first part of July to send in my entry. Yesterday I checked the Quilts, Inc. website and, much to my surprise, the deadline has been moved up to June 15! That is the "received by" date, not the postmark date.

I'd like to finish the quilt by the end of May, but I think that's a little aggressive. Although I think I can get the background finished if I really go to town on it, it will take some time to do the hand appliqué of the blossoms. Plus, I haven't even sketched or designed the blossoms and I'm still pondering how to do them. I'm going to have to start carrying my photos and sketchbook with me so I can work on them as I have little pockets of time.

Here is a closeup of the next piece of the puzzle:

I've been revising the pattern a bit as I do each section, removing bits here and adding bits there to make the pattern flow a little bit better.

As I was working on it last night, I was wondering if there is a way to speed up the process. For instance, I've been working on small sections at a time, selecting colors as I go. I'll choose the fabrics, trace the templates and stitch the section, then move on to the next one. What if I go ahead and select all the fabric, then do all of the tracing, then do all of the stitching?

Actually, I just answered my own question. Since I didn't number all of the pieces on the master pattern, there is too much chance of pieces getting lost or mixed up if I cut them all at once. Never mind. I'll just poke along at my current pace. FYI, it took me a little over an hour to piece and add that last missing curve at the bottom (see my previous post).