Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Quilting Bee's

Some of the rest of you must have grown up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder right? Man I loved those books, growing up, I always imagined myself in that time sitting on the porch sewing with my mom before we had to make the bread and butter for dinner. I guess that is why I picked Felicity from the American Girl line up (and yes I still have her, all tucked away with her red riding hood and yes I can't wait to have a little girl with an American Girl doll too).

From what I know, and I could be wrong, the quilting bee came about during this era, and it was an important means of socializing for pioneer women. Women would get together and work on a quilt all day or during some evenings (especially during the winter) and sew together. Quilting bees were essentially a place for women to gather and socialize. Quilts could be for upcoming marriages, babies or even charity. On a side note, I would love a wand quilted and pieced quilt from that era, can you imagine how cool that would be.

The modern version of the quilting bee is helped along by the internet. Virtual quilting bees and block swaps are all over the internet these days. There are tons of flickr groups with block swaps and many quilting bloggers are part of one or more. Essentially the idea behind a block swap/virtual bee is that 12 people sign up and each person is given a month. During the month you are assigned, you are able to give direction to the other 11 members of the swap with regards to what type of blocks you might want at the end of that month. So your assigned month you will get at least 11 blocks (usually more, because most people will make you 2 or 3 or 4) back. These blocks will be made with your specifications and or fabric, but created by other quilters. Hopefully the blocks you get back are made into a quilt, which was in part created by other quilters.

There are not hard and fast rules for these virtual quilting bees. Some bees are created around a certain fabric designer, a certain type of block, or even a color palette. Many swaps have no defined theme and the theme of each month is left up to that months assigned person. Virtual swaps also go way beyond quilting and many bloggers have stitchy swaps (with embroidery) or swaps centered around creating certain items (softies/pillows/etc.).

It is amazing to me how connected we can be through the internet. Internet friends may in time end up as close to you as friends made in real life. I love the idea that being part of a virtual quilting bee/block swap will leave me with enough blocks to make a quilt, of which the pieces were made from other quilters who I may or may not know. It is amazing to me how virtual communities have been built around themes I love, like quilting and sewing.

Some (12) of the women from LAMQG are currently part of a block swap (there is at least one other block swap with LAMQG ladies). Before I showed my pictures and talked about the swap I am in I wanted to talk about swaps and bees in general, thus all the wordiness above. This swap officially started in Feb 2010, and will run until Jan 2011. I am so excited to be a part of this swap and I just finished my first squares for Lauren, who gave us the task of making 11 inch squares, one with log cabin and one with circles. She gave us wonderful aqua and yellow fabrics and everything else was left to us. I love love love how my squares turned out, and the photos on our flickr group make me so excited to see the finished product. I already can't wait for next months assignment. My month is May and my wheels are already spinning with ideas for fabrics I want to use and potential squares I want created. Anyway I hope you enjoy the squares I made and I will be certain to post the squares I created for all the months ahead.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bloggers and Giveaways

Some of the more together quilting and sewing blogs have giveaways. I try to enter these lovely giveaways whenever I see them, because it would be so fun to have a lovely little package arrive in the mail from a fellow sewer/quilter. Today I entered Heather's (at A la Mode Fabric) contest for some really fun Heather Ross fabric. There are lot's of entries already and still many days to enter, but a girl can dream can't she.

Another blog with oodles of giveaways is Sew, Mama, Sew! Those ladies have giveaways all the time. Even better than all the giveaways though is the endless supply of tutorials that are posted, of which I have many stashed. You should check it out, plus they sell stuff too.

Being a new blog, there is no need for a giveaway yet, but eventually with enough followers I will have to have one.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

How to cure a migraine (yes it involved creating)!

I have had migraines since about age 13 (which means I have had migraines and dealt with headaches over half my life). Migraines suck. I have also suffered month (sometimes up to 6 months) long spells of chronic daily headaches (24/7), seriously good times. No solution works all the time, but todays solution is my favorite ever.

Anyway after a long weekend away from husband (aka Skywalker) and puppy, I was ready to come home and be loved and sew a little. Instead I came up and got smacked upside the head with my worst migraine in recent history. Skywalker took care of me so well, but there was really no helping it, lots of tears were shed, and then finally the delicious goodies that the best husband ever had been working on all evening were complete (homemade pecan pretzals and homemade pecan sticky buns). The magic of excedrin was finally winning the battle with my migraine when the deliciousness was ready to eat. My delicious and unhealthy dinner filled up my belly and migraine was gone. You may think the excedrin was the trick, but I think it was the sticky buns. Also to be fair, this can't really fall under the KatieMade category (all I did was the goopy sauce), so we can file this one under SkywalkerMade.

Maybe dancing Basil helped a little bit too.

Recent productivity....

Although there are still quilt tops in the works, I have been productive with some other projects. One of my dear friends bridal shower was this past weekend, and I like to make gifts whenever I can, she had been looking at this reversible apron from the Santa Monica Main Street farmers market, and when I went to look at it with her one day I decided I could make her a similar version. A slightly adapted version of one of the aprons in A is for Apron was used. The adaptation mostly being making it reversible and with an adjustible neck. On a side note, I really love the aprons in this book, but really hate figuring out how to enlarge the apron patterns in the pack, total pain. Both aprons I have made from this book have turned out pretty cute though. Other gifts for the bride to be were a lingerie bag and a bathing suit/keep your electronics safe at the beach bag (cloth outer, with oil cloth inner). All three are pictured below.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Modern Quilting: What does it mean?

Last week the modern quilt guild blog posted entries about "What does modern quilting mean to you?" I had a post all written in my head and it never got typed out, so I will try to remember my thoughts from last week about "What modern quilting means to me?".

Modern quilting enables me as a sewer/quilter to feel confident enough to create my own patterns and adjust accordingly when they don't come out quite as expected. Modern quilting gives me the freedom to make a quilt with perfectly cut strips but still end up with wonkyish blocks and feel ok about it (because even though I have sewed since I was like 5, I still can't get regular straight lines on my sewing machine). Ultimately modern quilting and the LAMQG gave me enough confidence to call myself a quilter, because until this group existed quilting was always such an intimidating process. The perfectly gorgeous and pink log cabin quilt that resided on my bed growing up, inspired a little bit of fear on my part. My mom is a meticulous quilter and I am not.

The best thing about modern quilting is that it is an expansion of the hand sewn patchwork blankets I have made for years (of which I will try to get some photos of, well the good ones at least). If I think about it I was already modern quilting, because I pick fabric cut out blocks (by hand) and sewed them together (by hand) in the way that felt the most right.

What I appreciate most is the inspiration I get from other quilters blogs, especially those using color combinations I never would have thought of myself, but that look beautiful when finished. My friend Latifah, from LAMQG, always uses colors (and color combinations) that make me a little nervous, but I am always so impressed by the end product.

And although my completed quilts pile is nonexistent (because the only completed one was given away), it turns out I was a modern quilter all along, because the modern quilter aesthetic worked it's way into this years slew of Christmas potholders I made and my current obsession of making project bags, which take such little time. I'll get some photos posted of the potholders and my most recent project bags soon. Free time that was once only spent watching Gossip Girl (ya ya ya, I know), Grey's Anatomy, Big Love and assorted other favorites, is now spent purusing favorite fabrics online (including Heather Ross [her fabric with mermaids makes me want to swim and play in the water even more than normal, which is a lot if you know me], Michael Miller [the zoology fabrics were inspiration for a current hand embroidered baby quilt I am working on] and Joel Dewberry [I literally dream about the jasmine palette of the ginseng line].

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Happy Early Birthday

Hadn't gotten the mail since Friday and my mailbox was so full of fun. 3 packages!! A pile of rainbow solids from Pink Chalk Fabrics, some of Tanya Whelan's Docle fabric (which I admittedly don't love as much as I thought I would, but might cut up nice) and the best of all (and not craft related), my dear friend Ashlee bought me a Starbucks Travel Mug (from the original Starbucks) as a replacement for the one I bought when her and I had a road trip there the summer before last (my original one broke). Oh how these things brightened my day soooo much.
I haven't yet jumped on the solid bandwagon, but there is so much talk about solids during guild meetings and people make such beautiful solid-centric quilts, I figured maybe getting a rainbow to start with would be inspiring. Thinking about making a slight adaptation of the Paintbox Quilt featured in Oh, Franssons 2010 Paintbox Quilt Along. I need a good layer cake from Moda to start it out though.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Project's I am working on...

I am at heart a multi-tasker. I always work better with multiple projects going at once. I have a pile of needle felted polar bears that need to be finished, and I didn't even get through one (i did do the penguin though). I owe more than one person a quilted stuffed animal (and have multiple sets of fabric already cut out, but the zebra I made took sooo long, I am a little wary of those patterns. I am working on a quilt for a friends wedding, and want to do some hand appliqué onto it, but I feel that is a push at this point. The quilt I am making for the future baby of my best friend, is coming along so very slowly (due to the hand embroidered squares for it I am making) and I need to complete an apron that I haven't cut out the pattern for but I do have the fabric, ASAP in time for a bridal shower.

The point here is that I tend not to promise things anymore, but let gifts be surprises, and if people know they are getting something homemade, then I imagine an assumption about the items lateness usually occurs.

With all these projects in the works, I also needed to finish a belated Christmas present for a friend (could hardly be counted as a Christmas present this point right??), so on Saturday I made a bunch of (5) project bags (one for my mom, one for Bonnie, one for me and two as surprises). These bags were inspired by my friend Jamie's project bags. When she shared these at LAMQG show and tell two weeks ago, I knew I needed to whip some of these babies out, and I assumed they would be less complicated then either the apron or quilts I am working on. These were soooooo fun to make. I liked figuring out how to make a drawstring lined bag and was happy to make one little thing for myself (I had some very special pinks being saved for such an occasion). I already want to make more (and have a list of people in mind to receive them), and I want to adapt the idea to turn it into a drawstring shoulder/bag purse (which I am not allowed to make until some other projects are done). I also want to make a floppy doll with a pretty dress and a doll quilt that will all fit nicely into one of these bags. That project is definitely some time away.

Maybe posting all the projects here will bring them to accomplishment quicker. Accountability or something. Below are some of the project bags I made, including the one used in the Valentine's Day LAMQG swap.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild

I started sewing young. I sew a lot by hand, for a few years I made 5 or so patchwork blankets, with flannel backing and sating binding, all done by hand. I like sewing by hand, it enables me to watch TV or interact with other people, rather than being tied to my machine. It also helps with my imperfectness in cutting fabric. Even with a rotary cutter, mat and ruler, my lines never seem to work out the way I want them to.

Anyway I have at least 2, likely more, quilt tops that need to be basted, quilted, and bound. These are tops done by hand, no fancy patterns or anything, and I don't even really like them anymore, but it would be nice for them to be finished (but I feel a block finishing them by machine when all the piecing was done by hand).

So here come the Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild (LAMQG), a group of highly inspirational women, who have bonded together over a mutual love of quilts. We have been meeting once a month for a couple of months to have show and tell and swaps, and just started meeting one weekend day a month to get together and sew.

My first meeting I felt like a fraud, since I had never really finished a whole quilt, and certainly not anything like the other beautiful quilts the ladies brought. A lightbulb went off, I had a baby shower in a month, I could make a modern quilt for that, and I did, and it was imperfect, just like all the other blankets I had made, the stippling didn't quite work out (not enough pins) and my corners were far from mitered (a bit of a rush job). But I do love the general look of my first modern quilt, especially the colors (pink, my favorite!), and it received many oh's and ah's at the shower (Quilts final name "Under the Sea"). The white mendocino Heather Ross mermaid fabric, used in the quilt, may be my favorite fabric (ever!). I also made a match onesie (With a ruffle butt) for a onesie competition at the shower (sadly, I didn't win!)

So in my head, I wasn't a fraud any longer, but I didn't even get to bring it to show and tell (because I finished it hours before it had to be given away), and I didn't get to wash it and make it all crinkly with love. My new mission is to finish the 2 quilts I have in the works, and the 2 I have in my head, so I can at least bring one to meetings (and take one of those lovely little photos of a stack of homemade quilts all folded and stacked neatly on top of each other).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Blogging Bandwagon

There are a myriad of blogs I look at when I can remember the various names of all the ones I most enjoy. I figured that a blog is as good a place as any to chronicle the many things I create, especially since I have yet to find the perfect hard copy format for cataloging my creative endeavors.

Hopefully I will keep up to date with postings so that I keep what ever followers I end up with, interested in what I have to say, or post.

To start the blog off I included some photos of picnic blanket quilts I made for friends for weddings and birthdays.

From top: Rainbow Bright has a picnic, Picnic in Paris, Lemonade Stand, and Hawaiian Luau