Retreat!

The first time I went on retreat, I had no idea what to expect. The person that convinced me to go moved away a few years back and the retreat house I used to love has since closed. But there are a great number of retreat options in north Texas. I belong to three groups of retreaters, and the one I was with this weekend was probably my favorite.

I was fortunate enough last year to attend four or five with this group. I just left one with plans to go again in March, April, May, August at another site (five miles from my house, I can’t NOT go), September at the beach for 10 days, October and finally, with the coveted November group. I’m so fortunate.

Retreat means different things for different ladies. Some like to sleep, some want to relax, take walks and enjoy the sounds of nature surrounding the property. I like to get quilt tops finished. As many as possible, and I really set myself up well for it this time.

This retreat we had 6 retreat virgins with us and two more that had never been to this facility. That made for a bit of a quieter group, but it was great to meet new people and make some awesome new friends! One was making gorgeous bags, and learned how to make a quilt block AT retreat. She was hooked! It was fun to watch her evolve.

Because of family schedules I was able to get to the retreat Thursday before noon, instead of my usual Friday early morning. That gave me a whole extra day of sewing. Since I had that opportunity I also joined a carful of ladies on a trip to the local quilt shop in a nearby town.

I couldn’t resist these fabrics!

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So what did I get done? Well….. I began with these two little projects I had started at previous retreats, but had not brought the colors for the border with me. At this retreat I added the last row of turnstile blocks and attached the border.

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This one just needed the dark blue inner border and then the scrappy 1″ blocks put on. Most of the 1″ blocks were already pieced in long strips, but as you can see, I ran out. And due to my lifting restrictions I din’t bring my usual extra fabric with in case I had this issue. So this little quilt will have to be finished next time.

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Next I moved on to this quilt top.

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I was so excited to use these fabrics! I think this makes a good sized twin.

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Having the strips already cut to size made this guy go together very quickly! My intention was to use the focus fabric in the 6″x8″ blocks as the border as well but it looked too busy. I didn’t like the look of plain black either. I may shop a bit for a black grunge or something to see if anything will complement this center and allow me to increase the quilt size.

I succumbed to my friends’ request to go to bed early (for me anyway, it was just after midnight), so that was it for Thursday.

Friday I awoke tired and groggy. I should have downed more coffee before trying to begin my log cabin with cornerstones. Instead, I didn’t see my already cut 1.5″ squares for the 9 patch centers and took some other pieces and cut them up. That caused me to be short of the second round pieces for my quilt. Thus, after finishing the 9 patch centers, I stopped working on that one and started on a scrappy red and black/white/gray pattern called Roosevelt’s Neck Tie.

It turned out beautifully.

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What’s funny is that these are scraps from many different quilts at different times of accumulating fabric for me, customers and from friends that didn’t want scraps. This is one of the ironic blocks. We don’t actually have any dogs, just cats. 🙂 I think this print is in the Atomic Cats quilt also!

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If I had my bolt of black I may have used that to border it just to make it a little bit bigger. It measures 100″ square, so if it’s a bit wider it will totally cover my bed, which is what I want. We’ll see what hubby thinks. I need to convince him so I can take that stupid crown bag quilt off the bed.

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I completed that quilt top that night. Technically the next morning, because by then it was 330a Saturday. We straggled off to bed (there were still 3 other ladies up with me) and somehow arose again by 9a.

Hey I had stuff to do. So I got to work :). I finished Atomic Cats which is this cute little lap quilt. It’s a simple alternating block with 6″ focus squares and 16 patch scrappy black and white patchwork blocks.

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Tell me these cats aren’t cute! And look – there’s the dog bones again!

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Then on to this scrappy four patch alternating block in red and black

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with this generous 12″ border all around.

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And that’s it. Sadly these quilts have topped the pile in this large blue bucket of quilt tops awaiting their lucky chance to get quilted. By now there must be 30 in there, at least.

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I was happy to have three more projects to choose from at retreat that I didn’t get around to – that gave me options of what to work on. Interestingly I chose many projects in a similar color palette. I have some more ready to go that will come with me in March and April, and from there, I will have to prepare more. I 100% believe that cutting everything to size in advance made my sewing time more efficient and made me more productive. I loved what doing that prep work did for me at retreat. So I picked these magazines up from the scrap table for more quilt ideas.

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Now I just have to start prioritizing my quilting work in that bucket. Especiallly anything I want to end up on my bed!

If you haven’t been on a retreat, ask some of your friends where they go and get together for one. It can take a few tries to get with people that best fit your personality, but I highly doubt you will be disappointed in the end. Happy quilting my friends!

This girl has been BUSY!

I truly love my job. Some of it is stressful, but I still love what I do every day. That being said, I had completely forgotten the great joy I feel from ‘kitting’ up these quilts! Finding a pattern, instinctively knowing what fabric was meant to be used for it, finding coordinating fabrics and the excitement of anticipation to put it all together – I can’t believe I forgot how fun that is!

I have been cutting ‘kits’ for days, literally. I cut one today, two yesterday and one the day prior. By cutting, I mean cutting out the pieces to be sewn. I do keep some intact for strip piecing, but many squares are cut to chain piece and other squares marked on the diagonal to become two sets of half square triangles sewn together.

I’ve also decided that I need to work on larger quilts, like some queen and king bed sized. For quite some time I was creating a lot of lap quilts. I still think this is a good gift practice – I don’t want someone feeling compelled to put their quilted gift on a bed. As embarrassing as this is to admit, I don’t even have designated quilts that stay on all the beds in my house.

That will soon be remedied. Well, relatively soon. Once completed, these tops will get stacked on the pile of other tops I’ve completed, awaiting their turn to get quilted. And maybe years later, bound. That’s my least favorite part…

Here’s where I decided to play with my non-scrap batiks:

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I got a few groupings of these put together with patterns.

Here are a few examples:

I bought this magazine for the cover photo alone. I happened to get this one all cut out yesterday.

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I have an admission to make here. I am terrible at following patterns. That’s why I’m not allowed to bake in my house. Cook? Absolutely, I’m good when I can wing it. Just not with specific and exact directions. So if I use a pattern, I have to write out what I need in a way that works for me. When I get to putting it together, it again will be by my own method.

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I took out the red fabric bin to choose my fabrics. I got some of those and some black and white and grays from the scrap boxes for a really good mix.

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In these cases, I had only a photo in a magazine to go by, so I used my trusty graph paper to formulate a pattern and calculate my required yardage.

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The one above I even colored in the strips to ensure I remembered to alternate fabrics within the two different blocks in the pattern. I’m so frustrated – I knew I should have kept this magazine out with the page tabbed. I shared this with a friend and she was having trouble grasping it so I told her I’d look for the original photo in my stack of magazines. I have looked for two days now, to no avail. Still can’t find the darn thing.

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This one needed no pattern. I have a variety of these adorable holiday prints, and will simply make them into 4-patch blocks with sashing (likely in white) with scrappy cornerstones. Haven’t cut this one up at all yet. I’ll maybe wait until July when I’m wishing for cold weather to come back around.

I am so excited for retreat! I have two small wall hanging sized quilts that only need borders. Then I’ve got probably 8-10 already cut projects just ready for me to sew! It will take me a while to finish them because not one of them includes large block pieces, but I look forward to it nonetheless.

Maybe at the March retreat I just signed up for I can include some big block quilt patterns for a few quick finishes. But between now and then I need to get back to my longarm as well, so I can get back on track with my workload. And I am excited for that too!

 

 

the fun of baby quilts

Let me start by saying that my baby is 10, and my other baby is 14. I’m still working off the baby fat, but I’m ok with that. We all have our own timelines for these things. Regardless of the absolute concrete rock-solid plan to have no more diapers grace this loving household (unless Kaela is babysitting…), baby quilts are one of my FAVORITE projects to complete!

First of all, the fabrics are always adorable! Tougher to find boy-oriented cutesy tootsie fabrics, but oh well. 🙂

Secondly, THEY ARE SMALL. This means the amount of work to complete one is exponentially less than completing a large bed quilt. Trust me on this one.

Third, they usually come as a result of celebrating a special event = an addition to the clan.

Now there are drawbacks. Minky, ultra-soft, fleece, whatever soft cuddly fabric you choose, it is A ROYAL pain to work with. That stuff shifts, stretches, waffles… I swear I could do without the fallout from cutting minky for eternity. And trying to get it out of your cutting mat is like trying to get the spaghetti sauce stain out of a tupperware dish after it’s microwaved to the boiling point. I call it: permaminky.

Despite the nasty nuances that tag along with working these fabrics, they really are soft and cuddly. In fact, the quilt below was made with all fleecy softy fabric for a friend of mine that just graced the family with a boy:

I quilted it with a triangular meander, which is pretty boyish and went along with the angles in some of the fabric. I found this fabric as a sample pack from a vendor and matched the back, which all worked out to be in his room colors! No pattern used, which made it pretty exciting; I just figured I would use the panels as a start and make squares and rectangles to fit around them. I added borders to enlarge it a bit and voila!

Unfortunately not all quilts are destined to grace a new baby’s crib. The one below was made in memorial to the mother, for this Mother’s Day. It is a gift from her wonderful circle of family and friends, as are the materials included in the quilt. A special onesie is embroidered on the front with her name and birthdate and a label on the back in homage to her support group. It is sad to share, but it will always serve as a beautiful reminder to her of a member of her family awaiting her in heaven.

I felt very special to be included in this project. I quilted it with all over hearts, and I think it couldn’t have turned out better.

Felt like quite an honor. OK I have to move on to something a little lighter…

This one was more fun – I found out my cousin brought home a new girl so I matched fabrics to the ladybugs and copied a pattern from a magazine. I put it together at a retreat one weekend. The loopy quilting matches the round shape of the ladybugs and the white on white fabric. So cute:

I made this cutie just cuz… the center fabric was on clearance at the shop, so I used it as the main focus and matched all those border blocks to make a simple but sweet little quilt! I quilted it in rainbow fans because they are in the fabric and, it just looks cute.

These two I made at the same retreat mentioned above. I had left over Peter Rabbit fabric, so tried two different patterns to use it up. I like the 9 patch best, but they both went to good homes. The blue bordered quilt was quilted in feathers and curls, and the nine patch (yellow border) has hearts all over it (which is the pattern of the yellow fabric).

I have actually made MANY quilts like these, but the ones below are made from CHILDREN’S CLOTHING. They have more of a purpose, because the child has outgrown these clothes, sometimes 16 years ago (seriously). But I like to be involved in preserving someone’s memories in such a special fashion.



Each quilt has it’s own unique purpose, for a different person, for a special reason. Each quilt is one of a kind, beautiful in it’s own right, no matter to whom it belongs. 🙂

Happy quilting my friends!

Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!

Haven’t been? You are seriously missing out! Not sure what a “retreat” is (I’m talking the noun, not verb type here)? Well… it’s like a mini vacation that someone might take to get away from life just for a few days. You retreat to a location with others that enjoy the same hobby, get tons of work done (if you like, it’s not required), mingle and chat with new and old friends, eat great home cooking and have fun.

I recently enjoyed my first quilt retreat at the lovely Heavenleigh Escape just outside Decatur, TX. The drive itself was beautiful; we’ve actually been on those roads previously on the motorcycles. Arriving to the retreat I found a log home with a red steel roof, flower beds and shrubs lining the stone path to the door.

Looking around I noticed the horses, cows, the mule (which I later learned goes by the name Jack) and plenty of chickens roaming around, a few are in their caged area below.

I also later discovered their pig, Wilbur, a skinny kitty and 4 dogs, one of which was nursing.  We were fortunate enough to meet the five tiny, three-week old puppies a bit later in the weekend.

Upon entering the retreat, I found a quaint kitchen with a breakfast bar and a large work area. It was bedecked with plenty of tables, an ironing area, tv’s, cieling fans and a rocking stereo system. There was a bathroom and bedroom on the main floor as well.

At the top of the stairs I found another meeting area, with plenty of seating and a large TV. There was another bathroom, 3 additional bedrooms and a door leading out to the deck. I was so excited to be there I could hardly wait to get started!

I did end up completing quite a few projects, all from my stash of UFO’s (unfinished objects) that had been sitting in a bin, some up to a year! They were in various stages of perparation – I had some blocks cut already, some were just a collection of materials I knew I wanted to make something from. Check ’em out below!

We listened to a variety of music and watched 2-3 movies over the weekend. Our host, Tammy, was the MOST AMAZING cook! She took eggs from the chickens outside for breakfast and made plenty for everyone at every meal, including dessert after dinner.

Oh and here are the little schnauzer puppies:

She also hosts scrapbooking retreats, and the retreat is available for weekdays as well as weekends. If you are local, I would HIGHLY recommend checking THIS out. If not, ask around your local quilt shops for a retreat near you! It’s such a great, relatively inexpensive getaway. For me, it was invigorating and I can’t wait to go back again!

Happy quilting my friends!!