Saturday, January 17, 2015

Grape Salad

So, you are busy sewing when the needle breaks, or the thread tension is off. Did you notice that 1/4" seam is not consistent? Oh, by the way did you accidentally sew the wrong pieces together? And those folded seams - do not even get me started...

When two or more of those things happen to me, I decide it is time for a break.

It was the long weekend of New Years' Day and I was determined to make some solid progress on Joyce's Quilt which is already delayed. And then the frustrating things began to happen. I turned off my machine and went to the computer. Let's check email.

Baby Shower!!! In four days!!!

This was a perfect distraction. So, I put away Joyce's quilt and got started on a baby quilt.
Shall I make a whirlygig? No, too many pieces
What about a D9P. Hmm, No. I have made too many of those already.

And then I remembered Sherbet Strips. It was a fun fast project with a lot of pizzaz. I decided to replicate Sherbet Strips in green and purple.  And here it is - meet the first finish of Fifteen...

I used strips from two different strips sets - one green and one purple. Added a white strip in the middle and cut into squares.

Placed four by four in a rail fence fashion and we have ourselves a quilt top!!! I wish I had taken more pictures, showing the strips and the piecing process.

As I pieced the top together, I began thinking of a name. What shall I call this little gem? That is when Paul walked into the door carrying the grocery bags. 
I got you grapes to put in the chicken salad, he said.

GRAPE SALAD, I screamed, scaring poor Paul. 
Yes, it is purple and it is green just like grapes. Mixed together they make Grape Salad!!!

I wanted to make sure that the backing matched the quilt top. Fortunately, I had this soothing green fabric in my stash. Alas, it was not wide enough. May be it was time to make a "creative quilt back"

I used my favorite warm & Natural batting and quilted it simply (super fast) with straight lines using a scallop stitch on my Janome. 

The binding is a purple chevron fabric. It was just perfect - it matched the front and the back and brought everything together!!!

And here  is the label.

All right, just one last look at it and then I must wrap it up. The shower was on Sunday, the 10th!!!

A quick finish is so gratifying. I felt terrific. In the week that followed, drunk on my success with Grape Salad, I finished piecing the quilt top for Joyce's Quilt. Where are the pictures, you ask?

Now, THAT is a separate post!!!

How is the new year 2015 coming along for you?  I'd love to hear from you!!!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Counting my Quilty Blessings...

Happy New Year to you!!!
Being the first post of 2015, I am looking back on the year and counting my blessings.

Once upon a time, when I was young(er) and crazier, I exclaimed aloud - "It would be fantastic to have a boyfriend in every US state." I was joking. Boyfriends, love interests, husbands etc. are good only when they are singular and even then in small doses. Friends, on the other hand, you cannot have too many. In fact, it would be wonderful to have a quilty friend in each of the 50 states!!!

1. Jen - I met Jen on an online quilting forum. When I saw that she lives in the adjacent town from me, I reached out to her. Shall we meet? I was apprehensive. I was not sure whether she would be amenable to meeting (I have been turned down by others). My fears were unfounded. She invited me to her Quilt Guild. I agreed and joined the Guild. Jen took me to my first Quilt Show and we are now best buddies. I get to see her at the guild meetings and other times when we get together for lunch and show & tell. One time, as I was complaining about "how tedious it is to start and stop quilting - I hate all those knots", Jen introduced me to cheater needles. WOW!!! That was an amazing revelation - I don't mind burying the knots any more. Thank you, Jen!!!

Jen came over for lunch one Sunday. I made spicy Indian food.  She sent me the sweetest Thank you card.

2. Zoanna - Zoanna is a fellow quilter and blogger. Here is a link to her blog. She has a way with words and I really enjoy reading her blog. She lives about two hours away but that has not stopped us from getting together for lunch, and show & tell meetings.
I was the first responder when Zoanna screamed for help. Zoanna was working on a quilt for a dear friend Renee. Renee was soon to start chemotherapy sessions. And to keep her warm during these trying times, Zoanna decided to make her a quilt, using the pattern called Warm Wishes. How appropriate!!! To make sure that the quilt provided the required warmth and comfort, Zoanna used a flannel backing. The quilt sandwich was just a tad too big to be quilted on her small throated home machine. That is when I offered to help. No, I do  not want anything in return. I insisted.
Warm Wishes - For Renee

Zoanna brought for me this big OUCH pin cushion, a lovely handmade card (that I will cherish forever), and sent me a gift card for Connecting Threads, which I spent instantly. You overwhelm me Zoanna!!! 
Won't you say OUCH, if someone pushed a pin into your guts?

3. Sylvia - I met Sylvia on the M* Forum. Sylvia lives about 25 miles from my sister. So, I sent Sylvia a message on the forum asking her if she would be willing to meet me for lunch when I am on my way to meet my sister. She said YES and just like that I made another quilty friend. Sylvia is adorable and she has this dark sense of humor that is almost incisive. We have already me twice!!! Lunch, Show & Tell, Fabric Scrap Exchanges - ah...the joys of quilty friends!!!
I am right-handed but Sylvia is left-handed. I ordered two ergonomic rotary cutters from Martelli. Unfortunately, I received left-handed ones instead of right-handed ones. Arghhhh....Fortunately, I could "gift" one to Sylvia and in exchange she agreed to show me some cool tricks for beginning FMQ. Now, isn't that a win-win situation? I was worried that I may be causing her a bother by asking her to teach me FMQ. Pish Posh, she said. I am planning a visit to see her soon.

with Sylvia

4. Jake - Jake commented on my blog, saying that a particular fabric was "oh so cute". I responded by email saying that I'd be happy to send her the leftover fabric. Jake agreed to a fabric exchange. Here is the fun part - I asked her to give me one word that would be my clue/guide to pick the fabric for her. Her word was "vivacious" and "plunge" was mine. I sent a small package with a few fabric scraps to Jake. What I received from her overwhelmed me...

I received fabric, zippers, catnip (for my cat), ghost peppers (because I like spicy food) and more. Jake sent me the most thoughtfully put together package I have ever received. The best part - her little notes describing the contents. I had tears in my eyes. As for my cat - Jonesie was in catnip heaven...

Jonesie playing with the Catnip Pillow, made by Jake

I have used some of Jake's fabric in mug rugs I made this year. 

5. Judy - I have yet to meet Judy. But we connected online. Judy is an amazing quilter and here is a link to her blog.  Judy was also part of the one-word fabric exchange with Jake and me. Judy's word was "Geometrics". I sent her a few fat quarters. Judy sent me a FQ bundle of beautiful, vibrant Kaffe Fassett fabrics. I always receive way more than I give. Lucky Me!!!

Kaffe Fassett Fat Quarter Bundle
In 2015, I am using these fabrics in a quilt that I have decided to call Judy's Kaffe. Hope to  meet Judy some day!!!

6. Cathy - I met Cathy also on the M* Forum. Cathy lives overseas. When we first emailed each other, we discussed about fabric, and patterns. Cathy also mentioned huge shipping costs to/from across the pond. When I got home on evening, my husband said - There is a package for you. I squealed in delight because it was from Cathy and it came from overseas. No, this is not  a package, I replied. This is love!!!

Fabrics from Cathy

I put together a package for Cathy - batiks in blue/greens and some spicy peanuts. I received the sweetest email from her - I could almost hear her squealing in delight too!!!
This is not all. Cathy also challenged me to use these fabrics in a quilt. The deadline is December 2015. I am going to call that quilt - Catty Quilt :-)
We have never met. But I can guarantee that when we do (it is only a matter of time), we will get along like a house on fire. And by fire, I mean that between the two of us we will destroy some fabric. You should check out her blog. She has some excellent tutorials on black & white cushions!!!

In 2014, I made quilty friends in these five states - Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Arizona and South Carolina!!! Five down 45 to go. Heck, I even made a quilty friend across the ocean!!! Yes, 2014 has been a blessed and a productive year. Check out my 2014 Quilts.
I am so looking forward to making more quilts and more quilty friends in 2015!!!

Here are a few random inspirations from 2014 for quilts in 2015 or later...
Artwork in a Lobby of an Office Building

Picture of a Shopping Bag
Inspiration is everywhere. Keep your camera/iPhone ready. When I saw this bright yellow/grey/black blouse, I thought - Wow! that could be a quilt!. For that matter, almost everything I see inspires a quilt!!!

Grocery Store Checkout Line
Modular Furniture in a Lounge (seen from 2 floors above)
Co-worker's Tie
In July, we took a trip to Chicago. It is a beautiful city and I loved every minute of our stay. The highlight was the visit to the Chicago Art Museum.
Chicago Art Museum Display
Won't this be an awesome block for a modern quilt?
The next picture is from Ethel Stein's collection. She is a master weaver and I encourage you to check out her work. It is truly amazing and I hope it inspires you too.
Woven Art, Ethel Stein. Chicago Art Museum

This is from the Chicago's O'Hare Airport, as we were going from the terminals/concourse to the ground transportation. 

Hope your 2014 was full of joys and blessings too. I wish that the New Year 2015 is full of exciting new possibilities. What was the best thing that happened to you in 2014? What do you wish for in 2015? I love to hear your thoughts.