Thursday, December 26, 2013

What the Heck is a Mug Rug?

I have discovered a new passion. This one is great because it uses up my scraps (I have a LOT of them) and they are very quick to make. They also make a big impact. In need of a quick gift? Add a mug a snack or two and a mug rug. Voila!

Here some of the first samples I made.

See what I mean about fabric scraps? The largest piece is just 4x6. It's also a good way to get rid of batting scraps. A quilter never wants to throw anything away. You never know when you will need it. Even scraps as small as 2x2 (you can always make a scrap quilt).

Here is a good definition of exactly what a mug rug is:

“A small, mini quilt that is mostly there to look pretty on your desk and soak up drips and condensation, larger than a coaster, but smaller than a place mat. Just the right size for a drink, spoon and perhaps a little snack.”  

There is such a craze that there are mug rug swaps - seamstresses and quilters make mug rugs and then "swap" them to other seamstresses and quilters.

Several years ago, new to machine embroidery, I sewed a test sample of the design before I stitched the final design on my project. I put the samples in a box. I discovered that I could combine some of these samples with my mug rugs. Here is a set I used with sample dragons.

The more I make, the more I like them. So, Off to make more!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rocking Chair, Indeed!

A long time family friend of ours called the other day. I had not spoken to him in several months, actually closer to a year. He recently had some health challenges so naturally I asked about his health and how he was doing. We chit chatted for a few minutes; I was trying to politely end the conversation and call my husband to the phone, he is more his (my husband's) friend than mine. He (the friend) asked, "So, what are you doing?" As I had stopped sewing to answer the phone, I answered, "Quilting." He let out a huge cackling laugh and said, "In your rocking chair?" Well naturally our conversation ended much sooner than he anticipated, and I no longer worried about how to politely end the conversation. He probably didn't even realize that I took issue to what he said.

After I calmed down, his comment got me to thinking. Is that the popular opinion? If you sew, quilt, bake, etc., are you just a little old retiree? Sometimes I wish I had the time to sit in a rocking chair. I still have a whole lot of life left in me and a whole lot that I want to get done.

Anyway I digress, I finished two more quilts (from my rocking chair). Have a look and tell me what you think.

The pattern for this quilt is called a log cabin. If you look closely you can see the white center blocks. It's fairly simple because you just sew differing lengths of strips around the block. Generally the block is sewn so that there is a light side and a dark side. I used a new technique and as this was my first time sewing the block I was more concerned with getting block right and less about the light/dark contrast. Again I used African fabrics. I had some left over flying geese blocks from the previous quilt (I sewed 240 of them!) so I used the rest of them on this quilt.

I belong the several online quilt blogs and groups. It's great because you get some really good information and if you have a problem the wonderful women (and men) of the groups are happy to help. I also have several favorite websites and during one of my online visits I discovered this fabric. It's by Moda Fabrics, don't bother looking for it that was my mistake I looked for it after they stopped making it and the fabric stores no longer carried it. But not to be sidetracked, I searched all of my favorite sites, EBay, etc. and I found some of the fabric. Of course I had to purchase it from several places which made it way more expensive than it needed to be. I love the quilt, I love the quilt, I love the quilt. I have also learned my lesson, next time I will just choose some other fabric, won't be looking for out of print fabric again, no matter how pretty it is.

The pattern for this quilt is called a double hour glass. The quilt was again fairly simple. It looks more complicated than it is. A year or so ago I purchased a Creative Grids ruler. You can't imagine how simple that makes the blocks or how quickly them come together. This is queen-sized quilt which I pieced in a couple of weekends. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

All in the Family

I was gifted a quilt made by my late grandmother a few years ago. It is one of my most treasured possessions. Some might think it's weird but it is on my "five things" list. You know, your house is on fire, you have FIVE minutes to exit the house safely what do you grab. First of course is people and pets. Then, I'd grab these hard-to-replace items and run:

  • Purse 
  • Personal papers folder
  • Computer back-up drive
  • Car keys
  • Grandmother's quilt
I'd also grab my shoes and a coat. You need shoes to run, right? Wait, that's more than five. Anyway, I digress. The quilt was hand quilted around 1948 or 1949. Before I was even a twinkle in my father's eye.

It is approximately a full-sized quilt. The pattern is called a Dresden Plate. It looks as though it was pieced using old shirts which were hand embroidered. The first quilt I ever made was hand stitched, it took me over two years. I promised never to do that again. I love my sewing machines more immediate gratification. I believe that my grandmother had a sewing machine but she and my aunts preferred to hand stitch the quilts. 

Here is my version of the Dresden Plate:

The quilt is slightly larger than my grandmother's. I used African fabrics to make my plates. I also added Flying Geese blocks around the border of the quilt. I have never been fond of the color green, but I really like the way the plates stand out in contrast. I have a really busy back because I believe that the back side of the quilt should be as interesting as the front.

What I did on my Summer Vacation

I have decided that my favorite part of quilting is the piecing, that is making up the top; cutting up little pieces of material and sewing them back together. At any given time I probably have 3 or 4 tops that need to be quilted.

One of my resolutions this year was to finish or quilt a top for each new project I started. I have completed a couple of baby quilts (see previous posts) with a couple more to go. But here are a couple of the latest quilts I've finished.

This is a throw that I pieced a couple of years ago, see how long it took me to quilt it? It is made up of half square triangles and four five inch center blocks. This is the quilt I made as a test before I made the quilt destined for my sister.

This fun little quilts uses blocks by Loralie. Instead of purchasing one of her set designs, I purchased all of the block separately. Good because I could use the blocks I liked with no waste, bad because it turned out to be quite expensive. It was also challenging because not all of the blocks were the same size so I had to use a fabric for the background which would disguise the many seams.

I took the quilts to a local park to take the photos: Saguaro Ranch Park. It actually used to be a working ranch, but the owners passed away and no one in the family wanted to continue the tradition, unfortunately the land was worth more than ranching. 

I have two more quilts finished and will post them as soon as I bind them.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Two More Blocks

Building up my courage for the more difficult blocks by piecing the simpler blocks. These went together quickly. The most time consuming part was picking the colors.

The eighteenth block - Lincoln's Platform. A block to recall the 
emancipation. Level of difficulty: beginner.

In the book this is the thirteenth block. It's called Underground Railroad. 
A block to recall the network of help. Level of difficulty: beginner.

Ok so perhaps it's time to sew something else. I do have those baby quilts.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Block a Day, or Month, or . . .

Wow! How time flies. Two years ago I started a project. The plan was to piece a block a day using the book "Unraveling the History of Quilts and Slavery. There is some controversy (isn't there always) about whether or not the slaves used quilts as signals to escaping slaves. The writer of the book touts this a myth and fiction; I disagree with her but I do like the quilt designs so I purchased her book.

Two years ago I made this block, I would (actually I still do) describe myself as a beginner so the block was really bad. Which is probably another reason I never finished the blocks. Anyway, I redid the block. I am not 100% satisfied but I am happier with this version. Chained Star - a block to recall capture in Africa.

This one is called Catch me if you can. A block to recall escape. Level of difficulty: moderate.

The block is made up of half square triangles. It's not too difficult but you must make sure that your triangles are square, if not then the whole block will be off. There are many short cuts for making triangles. My Accuquilt Go makes fantastic triangles and the best thing about it is the tips are precut saving me the time to snip them off.

Ok, so that's four down. Let's see how many more I can piece before I get bored. I do have a couple of baby quilts to make and I have five pieced quilts to quilt so. . . 

Oh Baby!

 A good friend and student and his wife are expecting. This is the quilt I made as a gift. Because I was short of time, I used a panel. It still took me two weeks to make the quilt.

The panel is in the center with the animals. I used another panel (border) on the side, and made four patch rows on each side.

I try to embroider every quilt with a label fitting for both the quilt and the person receiving the quilt. For this quilt I added a music score because the father is a DJ and this poem.

This little gift I made for you
and in between the stitches, I
wished and wished and wished,
you happiness and riches.

Friday, May 31, 2013

And More Quilts . . .

Red, Black & Green -

This is my take on the flag. I used red, black and green fabrics. I used this quilt for a quilt contest this month, unfortunately only two people entered so the contest was a bust. I embroidered the words to "Lift Every Voice and Sing on the borders."

What I've Been Up To

It's been sometime since I've posted, not because I have not completed anything, but because, well, LIFE just got in the way. So here are a few of my projects:

This quilt was quite a challenge. I made a sample quilt before making this one to get an idea of how to put it together. The multiple pictures in the center gave me trouble because they were all the same size. But I love the way it turned out. This is from a previous post.

These are two baby quilts I made for two new nieces. Although they are not "new now" I think they are both about a year old! I used the Creative Grids Ruler which is one of my favorite tools; for the second quilt I used the half square triangle die that I purchased for my Accuquilt Go. Both tools are terrific, they allow me to make accurate blocks without too much hassle and without tearing my hair out because something didn't match.

I had a comment about the quilts being thin. So here's the thing, there is a difference between a quilt and a comforter. Quilts are flatter, additionally the more stitching on the quilt the less likely it will be to puff up when washed. Before I bought my quilt frame I used the domestic machine to quilt the quilt (sew the top, batting and backing together). Because of the bulk of the quilt and my experience I did what was called "stitching in the ditch"; sewing around each block, which left the center of the block un-stitched. When washed the quilt would puff up which resulted in a fluffier fatter quilt. My personal preference is to use the quilting frame. I like being able to pick different designs for the stitching. Also it is much easier and less stress on my body using the frame. Hand stitched quilts can also be fatter, the stitching is usually not stitched as close together as the frame and the batting may also be thicker.