Monday, May 30, 2016

The Berkshires: Catching Up on Block of the Month Kits with Joanne and Nancy

Like Marion and I, Nancy D. and Joanne S. have been friends for a very long time too. They met at work, where they are both nurses (Nancy retired last year). Both of them are known for their meticulous craftsmanship. At our Berkshires retreat they took separate paths. Joanne worked on one project for the entire week while Nancy worked on several different projects.

Joanne spent her week working on this shop hop basket quilt kit that she bought in 2005 at the Button Box, which sadly closed this past weekend. Fellow Brown Bagger Lynne designed the basket block pattern provided the Button Box and designed the outer border of the quilt. Joanne came with three blocks made and made the rest of the blocks and assembled the outer border during our retreat. Isn't her quilt wonderful? It just needs to be layered and quilted now.
Nancy spent the beginning of the retreat week wrestling with the bag shown below. I learned several new choice curse words! Let's just say that I've made a similar pattern before and I certainly understand Nancy's frustration. The individual strips are stuffed with foam and woven together. I would call this more of a craft project than a quilting project. Nancy just needs to add handles and she can cross this off her list.
Lovely to look at but Nancy D. won't be mass producing this beauty any time soon!
Nancy assembled her Kaffe Fassett birthday blocks quilt and added this fabulous border.
She also made this cute little Easter wall hanging.
Nancy was also experimenting with a couple of patterns for possible Christmas gifts. Both of these patterns are free video tutorials on the Shabby Fabrics web site. Pictured below are the fabric storage bin, below left, and the origami triangle box, below right.
Nancy seemed to whip these up in no time at all.
Nancy's mini sampler quilt in progress. The blocks are four inches!
Nancy's sampler quilt was also a block of the month from the long defunct Heartbeat Quilts. The name of the pattern is Miniature Magic by Winnie Fleming, distributed by Quakertown Quilts. Only a few more blocks to go! Thank you Nancy for bringing your giant design wall and letting all of us use it during the retreat!

Nancy and Joanne were very lucky and each of them won TWO of our Right, Left, Center games. Nancy won the much-coveted Kaffe Fassett fabrics as well as the $2 lottery tickets. Sadly the lottery tickets only yielded $6 in winnings, but the new fabrics should make up for her paltry lottery returns.
Here Cordula has decided to "style" Nancy for her photo. She has draped Nancy in her winnings, complete with a fat quarter hat.
Sometimes gambling doesn't pay off, but fabric will last forever!
Joanne won both the grey and yellow fat quarters as well as the batik fat quarters, for a total of 51 fat quarters, coincidentally on the same day. Looks like she and great niece Emma will have some new quilt projects to work on!
Here is Joanne scooping up her batik winnings.
All smiles with her large bundle of grey and yellow fat quarters.
Joanne's good luck continued all day and she also got to pick first from the lovely coasters that Caroline (Kim and Karen's Mom) had made for us.
Here is Joanne with her new coasters. Cheryl is busy taking a photo of all of them laid out on the table.
What's your preferred strategy for a quilting retreat? One project at a time? One per day? Or break it up with several different projects?

Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Berkshires: The Marion Edition

My friend Margaret once wrote a haiku (a form of Japanese poetry) for every person in our Brown Baggers' Quilt Group. Mine was:
Roses are red,
Violets are fair,
If you see Nancy Cohen,
You'll find Marion Bear.

Technically, I'm not sure if Margaret's haiku fully meets haiku criteria, but it still gives me a chuckle. Plus, it totally describes our friendship. Marion and I are almost always together. In fact, on the rare occasion that I enter a quilt shop without her, the shop owner will inquire about Marion's whereabouts.

So naturally, Marion accompanied me on our Berkshire's Trip. She also got a lot of things done. First, she put borders on two quilt tops. Check out her giant hexagon quilt! This pattern is from the book Jelly Roll Jambalaya Quilts.
If Marion's daughter gets lucky, this quilt will be finished for her summer house.
Here's a close-up of the colorful fabrics.
 Marion also found the perfect border fabric for her sampler quilt.
Marion started this project from a long ago block a month program. She was very happy to finish it up.
She assembled her magnificent Kaffe Scrappy Rectangles quilt which she has been working on for the last three years. She said she tried to make 10 blocks at every quilt weekend. This pattern can be found in the book More Favorite Traditional Quilts Made Easy.
LOVE IT! Marion, please give this one to meeeeeee......
Here's a close up.
She even assembled a table runner out of left over fabric from another table runner kit. Marion based her table runner on Pincushion Boutique's Crackerjack pattern but opted not to cut off the corners of her rectangle.
Another lovely table runner by Marion.
Sewing with Marion in the Berkshires.
Making quilts and buying fabric together for more than 20 years!
Marion, as always, thanks for being such a great friend, quilting companion, and fabric enabler!

Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

It Takes a Village

Recently, one of my favorite bloggers, Jo Kramer from Jo's Country Junction, put out a call for "emergency quilt binders." Jo regularly takes in quilt tops from other volunteers, quilts them and then donates them to charity. She had fallen behind, so I was happy to volunteer to sew on a binding, as were a host of others. She only asked that we bind the quilt and donate it to a charity of our choice.
Here are LarryPug and Elvis showing off the finished quilt.
I brought the quilt with me on my Berkshire's Trip and put the binding on it. The quilt top was made by Jocelyn, who blogs at the Happy Cottage Quilter, quilted by Jo, and finished by me. Jo even provided the binding fabric.

My co-worker Chris is a single dad with two little girls. His youngest daughter, who will turn four this summer, was born with a heart condition. I've known Chris for 17 years and recently his team moved, so now our cubicles are adjacent to each other. We are "wall-mates", sharing a common wall. Chris is a good friend of mine, so I offered him the quilt for an upcoming auction for his favorite charity, It's My Heart New England. He accepted immediately and was touched by everyone's generosity who had contributed to the making of this quilt.
Here I am with Chris. He was thrilled with the donation. And now, everyone in my office wants to bid at the auction!
Thanks Jocelyn for making the top and thanks Jo for quilting it. I hope that It's My Heart New England raises a lot of money! I'm not sure when the auction will take place, but I'll keep you posted!

Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,
Here is the back of the quilt! Super cute cow print and some jazzy checks!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Highlights from my 2016 Berkshires Trip

This was our 17th year for our May quilt retreat in the Berkshires. I think that I have been almost every year. Last year I even made it to the retreat despite having had gall bladder surgery only a few weeks earlier.

As always, we sew, we eat, we shop, then we sew, we eat, and we shop some more. I put bindings on three quilts, made all the blocks for my Valentine's Day Quilt and assembled a small lap quilt top for my friend Julie.
Here is Elvis posing with the quilt I finished for my nephew Sam. This pattern is from the book, Country Girl Modern. I was able to give the quilt to Sam on Sunday night and he really liked it. Coincidentally, I bought the blue background fabric last year at the discount fabric store in Auburn on the way to the Berkshires.
Here are some of my highlights:
We surprised our friends Kim and Karen with some quilty hugs, in memory of their Dad. Happily for us, their Mom, Caroline, also a quilter, joined us for our retreat this year.
Marion (left) and I ran into our friends Joanne (center) and Nancy D. (right) at Appletree Fabrics in Auburn on our way down to the Berkshires. Got to stock up on fabric and projects for our week long retreat!
Had my favorite lunch at Friendly's!
And a hot fudge sundae with chocolate ice cream!
Found a new-to-us quilt store in Williamstown!
Tried our hands at wire-wrapping some pendants.
Caroline surprised us all with hand-made coasters, too pretty to use!
Thanks for visiting! More to come...

Pugs and kisses,

Friday, May 13, 2016

Happy Birthday to Lee Anna and Linda!

I have two dear friends with May birthdays that take place in the same week! I've known my friend Linda since we were in first grade! Although she is not a quilter, she enjoys crafts. I've written about Linda extensively before, here and here and probably a lot of other places in my blog that I can't remember.

I met my friend Lee Anna who blogs at Not Afraid of Color when we both attended the Houston Quilt Festival in 2014. We had met through blogging and had been email friends for a while and we were excited to finally meet in person.
Yes, it was love at first sight!
Kindred spirits!
We recognized a kindred spirit in each other and we have a lot in common: awesome husbands, adorable dogs, and a fetish for anything shiny. We both love collecting fabric and occasionally using it to make a quilt. Lee Anna is a super-amazing art quilter. I am in awe of her talent. If you're not familiar with her, go check out her blog!

So, two years ago, when we met in Houston, I bought a fat quarter of poodle fabric for her in the vendor mall. But I didn't give it to her because I decided I would make her something with it instead. Fortunately, she didn't know about this, because two years is a LONG time to wait for your birthday gift.
Poodle-icious zipper bags
Complete with poodle-icious zipper pulls.
And when I finally decided what to make for Lee Anna with this super-special, adorable poodle fabric, of course a fat quarter wasn't big enough. But I enjoy a challenge, so despite the fact that the fabric was out of print, I tracked down the fabric designer, emailed her, and bought whatever she had left from her own private collection!

The bags are in the mail right now and hopefully Lee Anna will get her package before she reads this blog! For more information on this pattern and other versions, just click the links. I also did a tutorial, so far the only one I've ever written, on adding zipper tabs, which I forgot to put in Lee Anna's set. Must remember to read my own blog for tips before starting a project!

And of course, there are bags for Linda too.
Step right up! More red and black zipper bags!
Linda's bags feature little dancing people and music notes. Linda met her husband Dave swing dancing (Linda also has an awesome husband and an adorable dog) and Linda has performed for years with a barbershop chorus. It's just coincidence that the two sets of bags coordinate so nicely. Linda's bags also match a Chubby Charmer tote that I made her a couple of years ago.

Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Friday, May 6, 2016

Everything is coming up Kaffe Fassett with the Brown Baggers!

Last Sunday I got together with my Brown Bagger quilting friends. I had packed my car the night before and was hoping to get there early. Alas, poor Romeo pooped on the kitchen floor and then walked through it (at 14, he is blind and deaf), so a quick cleaning detour was necessary.

We celebrated birthdays with Joannie C., Lynne, and Valerie.
Joannie requested bright birthday blocks. While, not exclusively Kaffe Fassett, there are definitely some KFC prints in Joannie's blocks.
Lynne, second from left, requested Kaffe Fassett fabrics and provided the contrasting solids. Also seen, from left to right, Terri, Lexine and Emma.
Valerie, on the right, with Terri, also chose Kaffe Fassett prints for her birthday blocks.
Terri, who is a professional long arm quilter, brought in several completed quilts for us. Both quilts were made from birthday blocks of previous years.
This lovely quilt belongs to Marion. She just needs to add the binding and it's finished! This bright quilt is, yes, made of Kaffe Fassett prints.
This lovely quilt belongs to Pat. It is made of Kaffe Fassett shirting prints and shot cottons.
Sally finished this cheerful quilt top. She was inspired by Pat's most recent baby quilt, seen here.
Kaffe Fassett fabrics make for a bright and fabulous baby quilt.
Marion finished the top of this lap quilt. I brought this kit back for her from the Houston Quilt Festival in 2014. This is the only quilt in this blog post not made of Kaffe Fasset prints. These fabrics are from another British designer, Zandra Rhodes. Naturally, I also bought a second kit for myself...
Is there a Kaffe Fassett quilt in your future? To learn about Kaffe Fassett, click here.

Linking up on Tuesday to Free Motion by the River. Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Rachel's Quilt is Finished!

Today I have a finished quilt to share with you! This quilt is a gift for my niece Rachel.
Hooray! Purple Neigh is finished. Yes, the quilt is named after Purple Rain by Prince. Thanks Marion for helping me hold up this very over-sized twin quilt.
The black and white horse blocks are machine embroidered. I purchased them from King's Treasures. I used ten designs from the 11 inch horse block collection. The quilt is a free pattern from Riley Blake's website called Bonnie Rose. Rachel's favorite color is purple, so it was a very fun quilt for me to work on because I like purple too! The quilting was done by my friend Kate Mitchell, who is a very talented long arm quilter.

Some more about the quilt here and here. Rachel is finishing up her first year in college at Cal Poly. She  absolutely loves school.
Here is my beautiful niece Rachel and her horse Ginger. Ginger has moved to Los Angeles and just won a blue ribbon with her new owner. Rachel is very involved with her studies and is just riding as a hobby instead of competing.
Linking up on Tuesday to Free Motion by the River. Linking up on Friday to Crazy Mom Quilts, Fort Worth Fabric Studio's Fabric Frenzy Friday and to Confessions of a Fabric Addict. Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

P.S. And how excited am I that Connie featured my post today on her Linky Tuesday blog party? Over the moon! Thanks Connie!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

My Weekend of 1,110 Pieces or Quiltport USA 2016, Part 2

As a quilter, people often ask me how long it takes me to make a quilt. My usual answer is, "I don't know." Most often because I work on more than one project at a time. Also, I'm afraid that if I ever figure out how long it takes me to make a quilt, I might stop sewing.

Remember these blocks?
Four blocks made so far...
This is the project that I brought to Quiltport to work on. Once completed, the center of the quilt will consist of 30 of these star blocks. Each block has 37 pieces in it, ergo there are 1,110 pieces in the center of this quilt. That's not including the pieced sashing strips between each star block as well as two additional borders, the first of which requires 44 more star blocks (each with 37 pieces in it) -- just like these shown here, but smaller!
Here I am sewing.
I sewed on Friday. I sewed on Saturday. I sewed on Sunday morning. And when we packed the car at noon on Sunday, this is what I had: a necklace of quilt pieces.
Still a UFO!
I have now made all of the small triangle pieces that go in the corner of each block. I think I have made about half of the pointy triangle units that make up the star points. So it is probably safe to say that this won't be finished any time soon.

Here are my gal pals!
Here is Joannie working on her Gypsy Wife blocks. She and Marion are both making this quilt. Their goal is to make two blocks a month. I think that Marion has seven completed blocks and Joannie has six.
Here is Marion at the cutting table. She finished most of the blocks for this lap quilt at the Quiltport USA weekend and she assembled the top today at our Sunday Brown Bagger's meeting. I'll show you the top in another post this week.
Below, Sue gives an ironing demonstration for the blog.
Giggle and repeat!
See how easy?
Sue was very busy working on a lap quilt but she wouldn't let me take any in-progress photos. She finished all of the blocks, and when we met today, she was sewing her rows together. She has six out of seven rows assembled, so one more row to go.

Nancy Q. and Ginny both made a mystery quilt during the weekend. Somehow I forgot to get photos. Perhaps they will send me some if they read this and I'll post them later.
Here is Nancy Q. all packed up and heading for the car.
It wouldn't be a quilt weekend without a ceremonial firing of the cannon! Here is Sue valiantly loading the cannon balls while Marion fires away! Watch out Freeporters!
This lovely photo of Marion and me was taken by my new assistant blog photographer, Sue.
Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

P.S. Did you like my fabric portfolio? Intrepid blog reader, Kate in Connecticut found a pattern for it, here. Thanks Kate!