Sunshine Quilts

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Rhonda's Winning Quilt

Edit: Thanks to Folk-Artist, the pattern used in this quilt is by City Stitcher. The pattern is Patchwork Diamonds. This is a whole picture of a quilt I shared here back in April. It is one I quilted for Rhonda Adams from Virginia. I've quilted for Rhonda for several years and she does excellent work. I knew it was a quilt to be entered in a show and I received an e-mail from Rhonda last night that it won 2nd place this past weekend at the 16th Annual Southern Maryland Quilt & Needlework Show at Sotterly Plantation. This photo showing a closeup of the quilting was posted back in April but I'm posting it again for any new readers to see (and, I love it so I might just post it again one day!) I love doing this kind of quilting with all the feathers! Rhonda always gives me freedom to do whatever I think fits and that makes it even more fun. Congratulations and thanks, Rhonda! Judy L.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Quilting on the Sewing Machine

Deputy's Wife mentioned the other day that she was going to do some quilting on her sewing machine and asked me if I had any quilting tips to share. When I share pictures here, it's usually of quilts that turned out nice, quilts that I'm really pleased with. What I don't show here are the quilts that start and the blocks just don't work because of poor color or design choices. I don't show the quilting that is just about to get ripped out because the tension was off or because the design I chose didn't work. My best advice is the same advice I give for most every situation: never give up! Have you ever seen Diane Gaudynski's work? I'm not sure what kind of machine she's using now but most of her earlier works were done on a regular Bernina . . 930, 1230, something like that. Every time I look at her work, for a brief moment, I think I want to go back to quilting on the sewing machine. Her quilting is just phenomenal! And I am just crazy enough to know that if she can do it, I can too. And, so can you! She has an excellent book, Guide to Machine Quilting. If you need a book on machine quilting, that one is an excellent choice. I pulled out some of the first pieces that I machine quilted. These two were done on the sewing machine. While they're not going to win any awards, they don't look too terrible from the front, if you don't look too closely. The first one is one that I drew out in Quilt Pro and I haven't used that software in probably 8 or 9 years so this is a fairly old quilt. It has a label but .. no date! Another reason to put all the necessary info you might ever need on the label. I was very unsure about my machine quilting ability (for good reason!) and I drew out even the meandering with a pencil. The quilt hasn't been washed yet so you can see my lines still there. While it surely isn't necessary for most of you to draw out meandering lines, it did give me some good practice with following lines. My next best advice is to use a print backing! I used muslin on both of the quilts I will share here and every stop/start showed, the stitches are not uniform and it is very obvious. I was so brave (or maybe dumb) but I used ecru thread in the bobbin and purple thread on top and didn't bother to work with the tension so there are purple pokies showing everywhere on the back. Those may be less noticeable after the quilt is washed but they would not have shown at all if I had chosen a printed background. I love using muslin on a backing because all the quilting shows but there are so many drawbacks to using a solid.

  1. All the stops/starts show.
  2. Stains will show and I think it's so ugly to see stains on the back of a quilt.
  3. If you ever need to make a repair, it's much easier to camouflage a patch when there's a printed backing.
Next quilt is a baby quilt that I'm saving for my own grandchild (not even a twinkle in anyone's eye yet!). As is usual for those of us with pets, Speck seems to like it. This is another one that the front looks ok from a distance. I must have been feeling pretty uncreative when I was coming up with quilting ideas because there are some ugly half circles quilted in the border. Every boo-boo shows on the solid backing. Keeping these quilts and looking at them from time to time reminds me how far I've come. I still have a long ways to go but as long as I continue to see improvement with my quilting, I'm happy. And, if anything I say here helps another quilter along the way, I'm doubly happy. So, I guess my machine quilting tips are:
  • Never give up. No matter how bad it looks, the next one will look better.
  • Use a printed backing to keep stops/starts and uneven stitches from showing.
  • If you do something that is so awful that you can't stand it, take it out and start over. But, if it's just something you wish looked a little better, you might consider leaving it, counting it as practice and moving forward. Ripping takes forever and for me, it's easy to give up and feel like a failure when I spend more time ripping than sewing.
  • Use a thinner rather than thicker thread. This will make it easier to adjust the tension and I've found it is easier to get a good stitch (without having either the top or bottom thread appear to be laying on top of the fabric). My favorite right now is Superior Masterpiece. Bob has some good tips on the website about tension too.
  • Using a matching thread in the top and bottom with reduce the chance of the pokies showing through. Also, if you use a thread that matches your top fabric, you'll be more pleased with the results. Using a highly contrasting thread will result in every little imperfection (uneven stitches or curves that aren't quite smooth) showing.
  • A thinner, cotton batting is great! Not too thick, not slippery. Quilters Dream Cotton is my favorite. I like the Select but the Request is great too. It's a bit thinner and works better for sewing machine or hand quilting than it does on the longarm.
  • When you have been away from the machine for a day or so, always practice with a swatch before starting on the actual quilt. You'll be surprised how much difference it makes if you just practice on a scrap and get the movements down again.
  • And, don't forget - never give up!

Judy L.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Quilts for Hurricane Victims

A fellow longarmer, Faye, from the LongarmChat group has been working tirelessly to get quilts to Katrina victims in Pass Christian, MS. Faye's church in TN has adopted a church in Pass Christian so she asked for quilts we might could send. I found two in my stash of quilts that were totally finished and two more that have the binding almost finished so I'll get at least four off to her Tuesday. Here are the two that are finished. The first one will be for a little girl. The fabric doesn't show up very well but there are fussy cut ballerinas in the squares. I think most little girls love pink and purple so hopefully this will make someone feel very special. The second one is a pretty basic quilt pattern and I did feathers using variegated thread. It's purple and pink too. Maybe this one will be good for a teen girl. I think I'm going to make a couple more quilts using this pattern. I like it and it leaves room for fun quilting. It's been a busy weekend around here. Chad got a job!! He started working this morning at Kroger as a stocker. He'll work there full time through the summer and be able to work part-time after school starts in the fall. Vince has been looking for several years for a new lawn mower. Vince is one of those kinds of people who researches and researches and then thinks and then does more research. If I needed a lawn mower, I'd go out and buy a lawn mower! In 1997 when we moved here, he bought a Yard Man riding mower. I'm not saying Yard Man is a bad mower but I'll bet I can count on one hand the number of times the grass has been cut . . start to finish . . without that lawn mower breaking down at least once. Last summer Vince decided it was time to get a new mower. Surely not yet! :) The Yard Man now had no fenders, had been on fire several times and in general, looked worse than most mowers you find in a junk yard. Anyway, someone told Vince about a used mower a local mower shop and Mr. Bargain Hunter rushed right over and bought it. I was with him and the whole time I was saying "I wouldn't buy it!" He paid $700 for it and I don't think he ever managed to make it work. It now has a thrown rod (whatever that means) so we had no choice but to buy a new mower. Yesterday, we spent an hour or more at Home Depot. I refused to go to Lowes for another hour and look at the exact same mower and ask the exact same questions to a different sales person. So, he didn't buy one but came home and did more research. We left Home Depot thinking he was going to get the Cub mower but he went back this morning and bought a Toro. Haven't seen it, don't want to see it but I hope it lasts at least 20 years and we never have to buy another mower! I did get a good bit of sewing done yesterday and today. These are all the "A" blocks for the new quilt. The "B" blocks will be finished tonight and tomorrow I will set all the rows together and add the borders and have it in the "to be quilted" pile. Off to finish the "B" blocks! Judy L.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Quilts of Valor

Please don't forget all of our injured military men and women returning from the War on Terror. As quilters,I think most of us tend to express our gratitude in the form of the art we love - quilting. If you haven't been involved and would like to, there's plenty of info on the Quilts of Valor website. Also, there's a mystery group. We aren't really that mysterious! :) Nancy Miller and I try to alternate doing mystery quilts for the Quilts of Valor project, although Nancy has done most of the work since I've been kinda snowed under. I'm hoping to help out more. Anyway, we just finished up one mystery and Nancy has another one starting in mid-June. That will be #6. I have #7 already drafted so we're pretty productive over there. If you'd like to join that group, you'd send an e-mail to: Here's the drawing of the Mystery #5 with borders added. The mystery didn't have the pieced borders but I love pieced borders and I like for the quilts I send to be a little larger than the minimum 50 x 60. This one is 66" x 86". I think that's a better size for a big man to snuggle under anyway. You are welcome to download the pattern and use it for whatever purpose you'd like. It's a pdf file and you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader which you may also download for free. For the real quilt, I used the Moda 76 Trombones line and the quilt turned out really pretty. Can't find the picture of the real quilt right now but I'll find it eventually. This Memorial Day weekend, my very special thanks to all who have given so much that we may remain free! Judy Laquidara

Friday, May 26, 2006

Where are the Parents?

No, we do not have snow in May but this is the only picture I have of the neighborhood . . showing how close the houses are. I've learned so much living in this neighborhood for the last 4 years. I've mostly learned that if I never have another neighbor, I will be very happy! We were up very early yesterday for mom and dad to leave. They ended up driving all the way home, which I had not wanted them to do so I stayed up til they called to tell me they were home. I went to bed about 11:30 and noticed that the boy across the street was out in his driveway working on someone's car. This kid is about 14 and we've had so much trouble with him. Mom works nights and kid stays by himself. At 2 a.m., they cranked the stereo up so that the stuff sitting by my bed was vibrating. That's not going to work! At 2:30, I finally called the police. Our police are so good! They were there (3 cars -- must've been a slow night around town) within about 5 minutes and the noise stopped but in the process of shutting down the stereo installation, they bashed in their garage door somehow so at 3 a.m., they were hammering and banging and cursing. Oh well . . at least they bashed in their own garage door and not mine, right? I had planned to spend almost the whole day sewing but instead, I took a 4 hour nap so I guess I'll spend the whole night sewing! :) Judy

Dependable Appliances - NOT!

Does anyone have appliances that actually work and last as long as you think they should? Wouldn't an ice maker seem like a simple enough part of the fridge? This fridge isn't a fancy smancy one but goodness . . it's just an ice maker. We needed a basic fridge when we bought this house 4 years ago. We bought a Roper. The ice maker has been worked on once, replaced once and is barely cranking out ice now. It says to allow 48 hours for the ice bin to fill. I don't think it would fill in 48 days. I refuse to dump ice trays because (1) I am the only one who would do the dumping and filling and (2) This is the onlyl freezer I have in this house and I need every square inch of it for other stuff. I just want the ice maker to work but apparently that is never going to happen. The dryer - I had told Vince a few weeks ago that I didn't think it was drying. Oh, how I wish I could just have a clothes line at this house. He made sure the outside filter thing wasn't clogged. OK, maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm impatient. But, while mom was here, the one day I was sick and went to bed, she decided to do laundry and she told me "I'd get rid of this dryer today if it was mine!" So, dad and Vince took it all apart, checked the heating element and whatever else they could find and there's nothing wrong with it. So, is a Whirlpool top of the line dryer supposed to take 3 cycles to dry an average size load of towels? NO!! And, the dryer is 4 years old and it has been repaired twice! Vince changed the thermostat in it yesterday and we'll see if that fixes the problem. The dishwasher - We finally gave up and washed dishes by hand because we would start to unpack it and half the dishes were still dirty. It's almost 2 years old, a G.E. and hasn't been worked on yet but the dishes sometimes seem worse after the dishwasher is finished than before. The microwave - The kitchen is so tiny and there's no place to put a microwave so for a while, we had one out in the garage. Then about 2 years ago, Vince took out the stove vent and put in one of the microwaves with the vent above the stove. It didn't work long. The door is cracked and you have to hold your mouth just right to get it to work. Sometimes it just comes on by itself . . for no reason. It isn't actually microwaving when it does that but it sounds like it is. This morning we had enough. Went back to Home Depot and bought a new dishwasher and a new microwave. Vince is going to be gone for most of the next few weeks so they won't be delivered til June 16 but at least I know something better is coming soon! Maytag dishwasher, which the Home Depot lady said was one of their best ones and a GE Spacesaver microwave. Not a big Maytag or GE fan but hopefully they'll be better than what I currently lhave. Thank goodness for my Bernina sewing machine and the APQS longarm because they work! Judy L.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Quilts for Mom

Several years ago I had made a Delectable Mountain quilt, entered it in the Nashua, NH show and it won a ribbon. My dad just loved it so I gave it to him for his birthday that year. Later I found the perfect fabric for making a Stack & Whack so I made a quilt using that fabric for dad and for Vince's brother. My mom is a quilter. She hand quilts and makes beautiful quilts so I never made a quilt for her. You know how it's kinda hard to make a quilt for a quilter! While she was here, she had one of Eleanor Burns' books .. the one with the log cabin, bear paw, trees, etc. She showed me a quilt that she wanted to make and I had already made that quilt so I showed it to her. Ohhh, she loved it! She was writing down where I had put all the colors so I asked her if she wanted the quilt. YES! She did. Kinda surprised me that she wanted it but she did and that was fine. On another day, mom was going through all my quilts and she asked if she could take another one. I told her yes .. pick it out. She couldn't decide between this black one and the blue batik quilt I had posted a while back. I told her to take them both so she left with three quilts. She was thrilled! I was so surprised. Dad told me that mom could never figure out why I had given him two and given her none but he had explained to her that she makes her own and she said that didn't matter. You just never know, huh? They left here this morning around 6. It's always so hard to say goodbye . . especially when I don't even know when I'll see them again so I had a kinda sad day. We've had pretty rough storms tonight and my phones are out but the DSL is still working. Can't figure that one out but I guess if I have to give up anything, the phone is the one I'd choose. Judy

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


We made it through graduation with just a few tears. Isn't my boy cute? I'm so proud of him. These past 13 years haven't always been easy but I'm so pleased with him. The teachers have had wonderful things to say about him, he ended up with a decent GPA, is enrolled in community college for fall and probably has a job lined up. I'm surely not giving advice to parents but I will say . . hang in there. The teen years can be rough but at our home, after Chad turned 18, there was a drastic improvement. Always know who your kids are with and make sure they know how much you love them . . even when you have been disappointed with each other. My parents leave early in the morning so there will be more tears. I wish I wasn't such a cry baby! Mom almost finished her Halloween wall hanging so she'll finish it after she gets home. Dad needs the computer so . . that's it for now. Judy

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Word Progress

Oh, we are having so much fun! We've ripped more than we've left in because we're talking and not paying attention and seem to be doing everything backwards. I've learned a lot from the letters we've done so far. Tonya's instructions are on Bonnie's web page and they are so fantastic! Speck is not a friendly little critter and he has tried every way he can to bite mom and dad. After them feeding him several chunks of banana (his favorite!) and sneaking him some brisket, I think he's decided he can catch more flies with honey! Here are mom and dad sitting on the sofa and guess who's sitting between them under the blanket! So far, so good. No sudden moves by anyone and we may make it without anyone being bitten! Tomorrow is graduation. I am never sick and what do you think? I came down with the worst sore throat imaginable. I wince every time I swallow. Now my ear hurts. Can't wait to take Nyquil and go to bed tonight and get to the doctor first thing in the morning. Oops . . I hear barking in the living room . . Judy

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bread & Ghosts!

Here's Vince's salt rising bread. It doesn't have yeast and I'm not sure how it all works (those kinds of details don't really excite me -- just give me some butter for this yummy bread!) so it doesn't rise up a whole lot. This batch should probably have been three loaves instead of four. It's a real packy type bread with a definite sour flavor. I love to cut it into cubes and let it sit out overnight and it turns into crunchy croutons. It takes a couple of days to make it and I think I'm just too impatient. Mom's guild has a challenge and here's how it worked: They took two index cards, drew a crayon out of a box without looking, drew a circle with their crayon on each card and then the rules were announced. They gave one card to the president and they kept one. They have to make a quilt (and it can be very small but can't be very big - I think each side has to be at least 12" but it can't be over 24 x 24) using that color they drew and black and/or white. They can use any shades of the color they drew. Mom drew orange and she was in a panic. I told her I would help her come up with something and I'm thinking Tonya's letters would be great. I drew it in EQ using their letters but I think while mom is here, we'll work with Tonya's letters and see what we come up with. Judy

Strange Sight!

There's a man in my kitchen! Oh, wait . . that's my husband! This is not a sight I see often! :) He's making salt rising bread. I don't know why it won't work when I try to make it but he can make it work! It's smelling really yummy about now. This house has probably the tiniest kitchen allowed in a house. We were both in the kitchen making bread this morning. I had started making pizza dough to cook on the grill. I didn't know he was bringing his salt rising starter over from the other house so we had flour everywhere! It all worked out. The grilled pizzas for lunch were great. I was thankful I had made the pizza sauce last night. The bread is on it's final rise now. We were so out of room in the kitchen that he has it all in his car rising! Speck loves laying in the sun. Look how he's stretched out in the one spot where the sun is shining through. Notice he has his bone and a sock right close by. Such a funny little dog. And, then there's the bunny! Chad used the finer mesh and built a fence around the grape vines. This morning I caught him nibbling on my zucchini so Chad built a fence around the basil and zucchini. Now he's decided to munch on the day lilies. He was so cute at first but I think it's about time for him to find a new home! He's hardly afraid of us at all. We can get within a few feet of him. He went running right by Speck this morning but he was so fast, Speck hardly even noticed him. No sewing today . . except I did sew the sleeve down on the red star quilt. Maybe tonight I'll have a few minutes to work on some log cabin blocks for mom. Judy

Friday, May 19, 2006

Red Star for Judy! :)

. This quilt needs a name too . . any suggestions? I feel like I should be getting a gold star! Here's the log cabin star that I just finished quilting. I ended up just doing some little free form feather type designs instead of a stenciled design in the squares and triangles. I'm glad to have this one done. I'll add the binding tonight so while mom and dad are here, I'll sit and work on hand work. Here are a couple of pictures of the quilting in the triangles and border Our poor bunny . . Chad is wanting bunny gumbo! Yesterday I was out buying tomatoes and peppers and herbs. Chad wanted to plant grapes so he got four grapevines. Bunnies must like grapevines because they have all been stripped . . not a grapeleaf left to be found. I have some of that green meshy type material and we put it up but it the holes were big enough that bunny could get right through it so we need to buy the mesh with the smaller holes. Oh well, Chad probably wouldn't like home grown grapes anyway! :) Judy

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Log Cabin Report

It was not good! I took my camera and didn't even take a single picture. On the way home, Vince said he knew when I hadn't taken a single picture after just a few minutes that I was not impressed. They had never finished the inside. The floors just had the subflooring with lots of open spaces. They've had critters in there that have made a pretty big mess. They've had a pretty good attack of wood bees/beetles and what the bugs didn't damage, the woodpeckers going after the bugs damaged. There's a sump pump in the basement and it appears it had overflowed. I can't even remember what else wasn't right but it was very unimpressive. I guess we should have known . . when the price seems too good to be true, there's a reason! The land, the view and the gardens were gorgeous. But there's no way we were interested in a house needing that much work. I really felt bad for the man who owns the house. He's about 80 and pretty frail. He doesn't live out there and apparently doesn't go out there much. He had big plans for the place but just lost interest. Thanks for all the good wishes and encouragement about the log home though. Judy L.

Finishing UFO's

If you aren't a quilter, a UFO is an unfinished object. Most quilters seem to be starters vs. finishers. I haven't quited figured out why I don't do a better job of finishing my quilts, although I do finish quite a few. I love the planning stage - deciding on a pattern/design, then I love choosing the fabrics, whether I'm buying new fabrics or pulling from the stash. I love making the first few blocks to see how it all goes together, but then I lose interest. It can get pretty boring to keep making the same blocks over and over. When we moved to KY in 1997, I began going to estate sales and auctions. I realized that finished quilts, almost no matter how badly they were constructed or how worn, would sell and quite often, sell for way more than I thought they were worth. Half finished tops or even neat little bags with all the cut pieces organized and waiting to be constructed, wouldn't sell at all. I began to think . . when I'm gone, do I want my half finished tops or my Wal-Mart bags stuffed full of cut pieces and strips to be sold for $1 or $2? I've labored over choosing the correct fabric for the designs, and no one can make my quilts like I can. That's when I began to make a concentrated effort to finish my UFO's. Before beginning this post, I would have considered that I was doing an excellent job of finishing projects. After taking inventory, I think I might be failing miserably at finishing projects. This picture shows 25 tops that are finished and just waiting to be quilted. 25 is a lot of tops to be quilted! Think what that number would be if I didn't have my own longarm! On second thought . . don't think about that number! There are probably just as many that need the binding finished and I refuse to think about how many tops are started and not nearly to the point of waiting to be quilted. I will do better! I will make an effort to finish more tops before starting others. As to the log cabin . . NO! Not the log cabin that we're going to look at in 6 hours (but who's counting?), I'm about halfway finished with the quilting on the red log cabin star. I'm thinking . . the last two quilts I have done have been log cabin related - the black quilt has those little cabins in the border and now this red one has log cabins that make up the center. I so rarely make anything with the log cabin block. Maybe that's a sign??

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Quilt Challenges & Dogs

Do you love quilt challenges/contests? I do! The fabric shown above is the challenge fabric for the "2007 TQP Challenge". TQP is a yahoo group - The Quilting Post, and every year we have a challenge. One year, we chose a yellow/blue floral and everyone had to use that fabric somewhere to make a Blooming Nine Patch from the book Tradition with a Twist by Blanche Young. One year the challenge was to make something using the book, Totally Tubular, by Rita Hutchens and you had to use a certain amount of brown fabric. Anyway, this year the challenge is to use the above fabric in at least 25% of your quilt not counting the borders and background. Contests/challenges result in pushing my limits, trying things I wouldn't normally try and I enjoy them immensely. Thanks for all your tips/comments about the log cabin. My mom says a cabin is a one bedroom/one bath camp and this is not a cabin so . . call it what you wish, I'm calling it a log cabin and I have decided that I can be brave and I can learn to stay by myself after dark or at least I can do it and not let anyone else know how scared I am. As far as getting a dog, not gonna happen. After my last chocolate lab, I swore I would never have a dog that is bigger/stronger than I am. Here's my dog story. We got Chip when he was a puppy and you know how darling labs are. Chip was a darling dog but he was enough to make dog lovers dislike dogs. He was an escape artist! We could not keep him in a fence, we could not keep him even inside one of those huge metal kennels. When Vince and I married, Chip was 5 years old so he was no longer a cute puppy but he was a beautiful full grown dog - strong as an ox! Vince did not like dogs . . not even a little bit but Chip was part of the "package" (which included me, Chad, Chip and the van, which was probably the worst part of the deal and we still have the darned van but that's another story for another day!) Anyway, Vince got to drive the U-Haul from Louisiana to Kentucky, with Chip riding right next to him. Chad and I rode in the van. So, we get to Kentucky and Chip had never lived out in the country and he barked all night for days and weeks. Thank goodness we had no neighbors! We finally had to get one of those collars that shocked him when he barked. Otherwise, none of us would ever have gotten any sleep! He was a digger. He had dug up half of my mechanical sewer system in Louisiana. Vince made sure he put him way away from the field lines. That dog would dig holes so huge that when he stretched out in his holes, he was totally below the ground. One winter, it got really cold and I insisted we bring Chip into the garage. He chewed the corner off Vince's work bench! Not good! The next winter, we brought him in but Vince kinda fixed up a corner so he couldn't get to the work bench. He chewed the corners off the steps going from the garage into the house! Not good! The next winter, Vince bought bales of hay and kinda fenced in his dog house with hay to keep the wind off him, then rigged up a light that put off heat because there was no way Chip was coming in the garage again. Chip would escape, we'd put an ad in the paper, find him and he'd stay home for a while. Finally, several years ago, he left and we never found him. So, if I were to mention getting a big dog, I would probably be living in Chip's old dog house. We're looking at the cabin tomorrow at 4:30. Keep your fingers crossed! Judy L.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ye Rip What Ye Sew!

My fingers ache, there are threads everywhere . . all over me, all over the floor, all over the quilt, all over the dog. Got the picture? Threads are everywhere. Sometimes I struggle with quilting designs. I marked this quilt Saturday afternoon after debating for hours about the quilting design. After it was marked, I hung it up and looked at it and it just wasn't right. I had used the water soluble marker so I spritzed it, let it dry overnight, came up with another plan and re-marked it all on Sunday. Started quilting this morning and it still wasn't right so what you see are the holes left from having ripped out the stitching. Thankfully, I had only done two squares before deciding it wasn't working. I can tell you these stitches go in a whole lot more quickly than they come out! Needless to say, I accomplished little today. But I have been thinking and thinking and . . well, thinking! Yesterday we went out to the neighboring county to look at a house DH thought might work. It didn't but we were taking the back roads coming home and we passed this log cabin sitting way back off the road and it had a "For Sale" sign on the fence. You could barely see the house from the road but we got enough of a glimpse that we both went "OHHHHHH". Vince stopped, backed up, turned around and we went back. The gate to the driveway was open so we drove in. OMG! You should see this cabin. It's 3 stories with a lake in front, a green metal roof (which I would LOVE to have so I could listen to the rain.) It was just like the log cabins you see in the magazines and it is gorgeous! We haven't seen the inside yet but I've hardly stopped thinking about it today. I'm trying to be reasonable but I'm not sure I'm succeeding. The negatives are:

  • We figured that we need about 3,000 square feet. That gives us room for a nice quilting room and we'd still have enough room to spread out. This house has more than double that.
  • Of course, the price is more than we planned to spend. I say it's not that much more. Vince says it's way more.
  • It is so far back in the woods and I'm such a chicken. You can't see another house anywhere near this place. I think I could stay there at night by myself but if we bought it, I'm not going to have any choice. Really though . . how scared can you get? I max out on the scared scale no matter where I am when it gets dark so does it matter if I'm scared in town or if I'm scared out in the woods?

Hopefully the brochure will arrive tomorrow and it will be just horrible inside and I can stop thinking about it. But .. for now, I can see myself quilting while looking out at the lake, listening to a gentle rain falling on the metal roof! Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Judy L.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Black Quilt

Anyone want to name this quilt? I have the hardest time coming up with names. Here it is, still covered in lint and threads but I looked outside and realized the lighting was maybe the best I can get in hopes of the stitching showing up. This quilt is 75 x 75 and I used a little over 6,000 yards of black thread with all the microstippling. I had originally wanted to use some variegated thread and had the perfect cone but it just didn't work out that I could use it. All of the feathers were the type where I have to backtrack and that wouldn't work very well with variegated thread. I thought about doing the microstippling with a very dark gray thread, almost black but it would have caused the background to be just a little lighter than the feathers and thus, the feathers would have shown up better. But, I really didn't think that would add to this quilt. I was afraid that by graying the black, the lavender and lime fabrics might look muted. So, I spent a week doing quilting that barely shows up! Oh well, what else would I have been doing? :) The black is the Amish Black from Keepsake but I think I will stick with the Michael Miller Jet Black from now on. The remainder of the fabrics are batiks. Every square inch of this fabric (except the backing) came from the stash. Here are a couple of other photos. Please excuse the fuzz, thread, lint and dog hair that might show up. I will clean it up before submitting any pictures for shows or contests. I still have to do the handwork so there's no use worrying about cleaning it til I'm finished with all that. This is a closeup of one of the center blocks. Four of these blocks make up the center. I did "stones" in the black area of the center, then did the stones in the longer lavender points. This was another area I hadn't planned on quilting but these points wanted to poof. Then the outer part of the points (purple/turquoise part) needed something. I was pretty much out of ideas at this point so I did just some measured straight lines using a purple/turquoise variegated thread. Next picture shows the feather motif that is in the inner border. This is a feather stencil by Pepper Cory (PC1841 from Stensource). This was the first time I've used this stencil and I loved it. I really like the long, slender, curvey feathers. I had not intended to do any stitching in the lime and lavender borders but when all the rest of the quilt is so heavily quilted, even the smallest area left unquilted will seem to poof and look empty. When I see a quilt that has this type area, I find that my eye goes to the poofy, unquilted area first and that takes away from the rest of the quilting. So, I did the stones in the black narrow area, then did half feathers in the lime and lavender strips. This picture shows the very outer border. The stencil used is a Judy Allen feather (GT-JA3 from Golden Threads). I added the "stones" in the center because I also have those several other places in the quilt and figured that helped bring it all together. This stencil was a fun one. So, now you know why my family had sandwiches all week last week! Judy L.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Heart Quilting

A while back I shared the back side of the heart quilts that are in the American Quilter this month. I had hoped the quilting would show up better in the magazine but it doesn't. The Floral Passion quilt is in the magazine and the Hearts Afire version is on the web page for AQS members. This picture shows the quilting in the hearts of the Hearts Afire version. Notice the little feather that I meandered into the background. Have I said lately that I love quilting? I did finish the black quilt last night, actually very early this morning. I ended up having to wash the quilt to get the chalk marks out. I had hoped not to have to wash it but even where the chalk did come out, there was so much chalk dust everywhere that the whole quilt looked smudgy. So, I washed it last night, dried it for a while, then laid it out in the floor and blocked it. I left the ceiling fan on so it was all dry when I got up this morning. The binding is now on, the sleeve is on. The hand work remains to be done. I was planning to share a picture here but it's raining and the only hope I have of getting the quilting to show up is to take a picture outside. Maybe tomorrow . . Judy L.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Teacher Quilts

You might think once my son graduates, I'd be finished making teacher quilts but apparently, it's just almost over. Earlier this year I told Chad I probably wouldn't have time to make quilts for his teachers this semester due to the other commitments I have. He was fine with that but this week, he's brought up a couple of times that he wished we had made quilts for two of the teachers he had this semester. The third teacher is a man and Chad didn't think he'd really be interested in a quilt. Then he said . . oh, and there's Mrs. Cook. I've had her three times and she's never gotten a quilt. He has had Mrs. Cook for three different nine week classes and it always happened that it was not a quarter that ended at Christmas or the end of the year and I just never made her a quilt. Today I noticed Chad going through my stack of quilts. He said he was just looking to see if there was anything he thought his teachers might like. I told him I would make them quilts but they wouldn't get them til next year. He was fine with that. So, I sent them all e-mails and explained that they would get a gift but it would be next year and asked about their favorite colors. So, I have a blue quilt, a red quilt and an "any color" quilt to make. Chad's happy so I'm happy. As I was looking through the pictures of the teacher quilts on my webshots page (they're not all there because I either never took pictures or forgot to post them), a couple of my favorites are: This quilt was was made for Mrs. Orgeron. She was Chad's third grade teacher when he was at Hamilton Christian Academy in Lake Charles. I've liked a lot of his teachers but I think Mrs. Orgeron will always be my favorite. She was so special that her quilt was even hand quilted!! It is made from Wendy Etzel's book, The Collectible Quilt. My next favorite was this Sunbonnet Kitty quilt from Janet Kime's book, The Cat's Meow. I even hand appliqued these cats! I've actually made this quilt twice. The first one was a gift to a friend's daughter probably in the mid-90's either when she graduated or got married . . can't remember. Anyway, this particular cat went to Mrs. Wells who was Chad's 7th grade English teacher. Chad always hated English but he loved Mrs. Wells and he did better in her class than he's ever done in English. Of course, Mrs. Wells loves cats! I know the teachers can all say nice things about Chad now that he's out of their classes but here's what they each had to say in their e-mails back to me:

  • I have enjoyed having Chad in class this semester—it was never dull!! One of the lessons I learned from him is how much kids relate to music. I have actually altered some of my lessons to include analysis of song lyrics, in part because of Chad. He is such a positive force and was always very respectful and kind to me.
  • I have loved having Chad in class. He is a very special, kind hearted kid!
  • I will miss Chad. He NEVER passes me without a big hello.

Now that makes a mom feel good! Judy L.

Folding the Fabric

Folding the stash has turned into an obsession. I've been folding it into 9" (1/4 yard) sections so that in theory, I can look at any piece of fabric and make a good guess as to how much fabric is there. The one thing that kept causing my stash to be such a mess was trying to pull out a piece of fabric for a project (usually the piece I needed was on the bottom of the stack), finding I didn't have enough and then just chunking it back in the pile. I'm sure others use this system too but I wanted to share it for any who might be interested. With it folded into 9" sections, I can safely figure that 2 folds means I have 18", 10 folds means I have 90". I fold it accordian style so that it doesn't make the folds bigger as I go and I have found it to be pretty accurate. Here's a lesson in folding fabric! :) Because I wash all the fabric before it goes into the stash and because I really do enjoy the ironing process, after the fabric has been washed and ironed, I lay it out folded in half just as it came off the bolt. I do this on my big cutting table but it's a mess now so for the purposes of the picture, it's all being done on the floor. By the way, I do not press the fold in the fabric because I've found that in some fabrics, that crease line stays forever. Next, I bring the folded edge up to the selvage edge. If fabric is 44" wide (it isn't!), I would now have a piece that is 22" by the length. Then I lay a ruler (Creative Grids is my favorite ruler!) and I begin folding into 9" sections. Once it's all neatly folded, it goes into the stash closet. I could now look at this piece and see that it has 10 folds plus a couple of inches and can know right off the bat, without pulling it out and disrupting the whole stack, that there should be about 92" of fabric here. Suppose I need 1.5 yards of a piece of fabric. I know I need something with at least 5 or 6 folds. Sounds pretty easy, huh? And here's one neat little stack of leftovers from my last few projects (and a little fabric shopping) waiting to go into the stash. Once in there, it is stacked according to color. For the fabrics that have over 5 yards, I do not use this process. It just stays folded like this: Happy Folding! :) Judy L.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mom is a Wimp!

I didn't expect this to happen! Tomorrow is Chad's last day of high school and every time I think about it, I start crying. This isn't fun! He was just a baby . . yesterday! Now he's 18, finishing school. I'd like to say he has a job but that's not true. He registered yesterday at community college. Isn't this supposed to be easy? He's growing up, soon he'll leave home. No more teenage attitude, one less person to do laundry for, one less mouth to feed. Hey . . one less driver on the car insurance. Maybe there'll be enough hot water for me to take a hot shower. No! I don't want this to happen. Vicky, Laurie, someone who has known me for years, remind me of those times not so long ago when I thought I was going to run away from home if he didn't straighten up. I will not cry tomorrow. I will not cry tomorrow. Poor kid. How many kids leave for their last day of high school with mom crying like a baby?? Judy

Distractions :)

This little bunny has been in my back yard for a couple of weeks. He's very small but he's grown quite a bit. I think he finds my dandelions quite yummy. He has parked himself outside the window of my quilting room and I have watched him off and on all day. Not quite sure about daily dietary requirements for a little bunny but this little fellow may well have a tummy ache tonight. He has eaten non-stop today. It's been drizzly most of the day so Speck has had no interest in lounging in the sun on the back patio so the bunny has had an uninterrupted day in the back yard. This is the sky about 7:00, way too early to get dark but pretty ominous looking. There are small tornadoes around us but nothing close enough to send me to the bath tub yet. In fact, our tornado watch has just now been cancelled. Want to know how lucky I am? When I was at Paducah, I bought about 15 cones of Superior Masterpiece thread. I mostly bought black, tan, cream, gray . . neutrals. But, because I love purple and lime green, I picked up a cone of each. Didn't have a quilt in mind but just liked the colors. On this quilt I'm working on, I wasn't going to quilt anything in the narrow purple and green strips but there's so much quilting in the black area, they seem to need quilting. I didn't remember what colors of thread I had purchased and was thinking I might not have the right colors for those strips. But look how well they match! Perfect!! Judy L.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Copyrights! I am Rambling . .

The copyright discussion has taken over many of the quilt lists I'm on and I'm sick of it already! It seems that every designer has their own version of what copyright should be. Heck, I don't have a clue what it all really means and the more I read, the more confused I get. First, I definitely agree that no one should purchase a pattern and then make copies to hand out to her friends. The guild here was awful about doing that and I hated it. I am no longer a member but whatever justification anyone can come up with for copying a design and sharing it . . it's just wrong! I think that part of the copyright law is pretty much settled. On the other hand, there are designers who say you cannot sell a design made from their quilt. I heard about one designer who says that if you make a shop sample from their pattern, you cannot even sell the shop sample when you're finished with it. I think that's a bit much. I don't have a clue what is right or wrong on this aspect according to the law but here's how I think of it. Suppose the quilt shop wants to make a sample of one of my patterns and hang it in their shop for a year or two. You know that having that sample there is going to cause that pattern to sell probably a dozen times better than it would sell if the pattern was sitting there on the shelf all alone, with no sample. So, the shop stands to sell maybe 6 patterns in one year without a sample and maybe 25 patterns in one year with the sample. Would I expect the shop to make the sample and keep it forever? No! They can sell it or do whatever they want to do with it. It has served its purpose by selling more of my patterns (I hope!). Then there's the designers who make pantograph patterns for longarmers. Some say that every time you use the pantograph, it goes with the quilt. You buy one pantograph every time you want to use it. Some say you can use the pantograph 5 times and there are little circles to mark off. What are they going to do . . audit me? No . . not me because I buy NONE of those type patterns. Some designers say you have to get their permission before entering a quilt in a show made from their design. Some go so far as to expect part of the prize money if you win! Think I'd be making any of those designs? NO! Think I'd even buy a design with such a limitation? NO! It would be nice if someone made a prize winning quilt from my pattern if somewhere there was a credit so others could find the pattern if they wanted to make one but if I see one of my patterns made up at a show and being exhibited with no credit given, am I going to track that person down and issue a reprimand? NO! I'd rather spend my time quilting! OK . . so why am I so fired up about this copyright issue? Last night I was talking to someone who has all these requirements about what can and can't be done with her patterns. Goodness, by the time we finished talking, I almost got the idea she wanted to approve fabric choices before someone used them on her patterns. Anyone see where I'm going with this? That black quilt I'm working on! I used stencils made by Pepper Cory which are distributed by Sten Source so technically, either could have rules that say I have to get permission before I can even enter this quilt in a show. I was pretty much frustrated because I have the whole quilt marked and half the motifs quilted. I wrote Pepper Cory an e-mail and then called her this morning. She was so very, very nice and was thrilled that I was using her stencil and had no problems with a quilt being entered in a show. I was beginning to think the whole quilting world had lost their senses. I look at the quilt groups and I think of how much time and effort some people are putting into writing these long and drawn out regulations about what can and can't be done with their patterns and then . . what? Are they going to start policing the quilting world? It would be nice if everyone would play by the rules but everyone is not going to play by the rules. I will do my best to respect copyright rules (but if I'm not even sure I understand the limitations placed on designs by copyright, that's kinda hard) and copyright restrictions/violations will not consume me. After all this (anyone still reading?) I want to say a huge thank you to Bonnie Hunter for all the work she does to create free patterns for everyone to use. It is a lot of work and for those of us who really, really appreciate what she does, don't forget to let her know you appreciate her work. Back to quilting the black quilt now that I can quilt without fear of going to jail for copyright violation! Judy L.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bird's Eye View of Perfection

Several years ago, while at the Museum of American Quilter's Society in Paducah, I saw the exhibit of 20 years of winning quilts from the AQS Show. This trip to the museum probably changed my quilting more than any one event! If you've ever gone to a huge quilt show, you know that it's very hard to get up close and personal with the winning quilts and if you do get real close, it's really quick and you have to move on. While at the museum, even though I couldn't touch the quilts, I could see them "eyeball to eyeball". While the quilts were all amazing and way, way, way better than anything I will ever do, some weren't really *perfect*. There were some spots where the stitches were a bit uneven, a long stitch here or there. There were some spots where points didn't quite meet perfectly. Don't get me wrong - these quilts are outstanding but from a distance, I had never realized there was anything not totally perfect about them. For the most part, the quilts there were totally perfect but just seeing those few that had just a little bit of imperfection made me realize that I could enter my quilts in big shows. I never had any dream of winning any kind of ribbon but I did feel empowered to enter my imperfect quilts in shows. I entered a few quilts in shows and then in 2004, I wanted to enter something in the AQS Expo in Nashville. I read the rules and it was about a week until the deadline for getting the entry done. One of the categories was "AQS 20th Anniversary" and it had to be something made from an AQS book. I had this black stack & whack but it wasn't quilted yet. I had intended to give it for a teacher gift at Christmas the year before and had never gotten it quilted. I didn't think I had time to get it quilted but my quilting friend, Sally, encouraged me to just get it done. So, I did. The binding was only halfway finished in the picture I submitted with my entry. A month or so before the quilt show, I received notice that it had been accepted so I had to finish the binding. As I began removing the threads and lint, I realized that I had done a very stupid thing! I'm so cheap! I use the leftover bobbins from the longarm for my piecing. There were places where I had used red, orange, yellow, gray . . you name it . . thread on that black fabric. In some spots, the tension wasn't perfect or the stitches were too big and you could see all these little dots of red, orange, yellow or gray thread! Oh, my! This quilt was already entered and accepted. What could I do? I thought of telling them I couldn't enter it . . maybe the dog ate it?? Then I thought . . Sharpie!! I got a black sharpie and touched almost every stitch on that quilt. Off it went to AQS for the show. I had two quilts in the show and I just knew the other one would win a ribbon because it had won ribbons every where else it had been. Found it .. no ribbon! I was just making my way through the show and I got to that quilt and it had WON! Best of Category .. top prize! I couldn't believe it! We're our own worst critics! I will never make a quilt that equals those that win at Paducah but if I had talked myself out of entering the black stack & whack quilt because of its imperfections, it would never have won. So, if you're a quilter and if your points don't always meet or if your stitches are a little uneven, don't worry about it. There are a whole bunch of us quilters who aren't quite perfect and a very few who are nearing perfect. And, the pictures you see, whether it be pictures I share here or pictures you see in magazines -- remember that not every little imperfection shows up in pictures! I think it's important to have fun, enjoy what we do and leave a quilt or two behind for future generations. Now, speaking of imperfections, check this out. This is greatly enlarged but as I began quilting this top, I came across this seam. OOPS! Not much I can do about it now. I thought I was being way more careful and checking all the seams but I was tired when I was putting this final border together. Probably all those award winning quilters stop when they get tired. Not me . . I keep on because I want to get finished NOW! I'm thinking/hoping that once it's quilted, no one will even notice. How's that for optimistic? I use a bunch of painter's tape. When I have a stencil that needs to fit into a certain spot, I mark strategic "landmarks" so I can just lay the stencil down in the correct place each time without having to measure. On this particular stencil, I put the blue painter's tape to line up with the green strip in the border. Pretty simple, huh? Judy L.