Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Starting Clover

Ok, so this pattern looks easy enough, it's only squares after all.  But if you read the pattern notes, Carrie Nelson named this pattern "Clover" after the brand name of her seam ripper!  Well, my seam ripper got a work out with this one too.

I sewed all the horizontal four-patch units wrong (yes the alignment matters, if you want it to look like a horizontal row of squares on point!!), and naturally that happened at the end of a long day of sewing when I was too tired and it was too late to fix.  So I spent a couple nights last week ripping them apart and re-sewing them correctly. 

I finally got all the individual rows complete (minus the setting triangles, I sewed those on last).  When I lined up the rows on the design wall, it made a diamond shape I thought was kind of cool!

Then I started sewing rows together and finished up last Saturday with half the top complete.

See that little window?  That's the only natural light in my sewing room in the basement (but at least I have a room that's all mine!)

On Sunday, I finished Clover.  I love the fabrics I used (Posh Pumpkins by Sandy Gervais for Moda) and I really like the end result.  I have no idea how I'm going to quilt this one, but I have a while to think about it because I'm not going to quilt it until some time next year.

Don't forget to head over to The Pink Pincushion and A Quilting Life on November 1 to check out the parade of Clovers.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

More from the Shop Hop

Ready to hear more about the shop hop? We started our journey at the store farthest away from all of us. Diana and I live in NY. Diana's sister, Alice, and Alice's friend, Judy, live in western Massachusetts.  We all met up in Lee, MA, and headed east to Appletree Quilts in Auburn.  It's located in a small strip mall. The store is bright and well lit. They seemed to have mostly modern fabrics and batiks. The store was crowded but it was still easy to look at the fabrics. There were two lines, one for people who needed fabric cut before paying and another for folks just paying. The staff was organized and efficient.

Our second stop was at Charlton Sewing Center in Charlton, MA. This store is located in a former church:

We entered in the basement which is where they sell Bernina Sewing machines.

You need to climb some fairly steep steps to get into the shop itself. It's a fairly open space and there was plenty of room to look around despite being crowded. There were some really lovely samples of wool candle mats, but unfortunately, there didn't seem to be any corresponding patterns or kits. I was disappointed as that was the one thing I planned to purchase. I have to say the staff did not seem very friendly, and frankly, the stairs were tough. It seemed to me the stair rail was very low when heading back downstairs. It didn't feel very safe to me.

The third shop we visited was The Quilt and Cabbage near Sturbridge, MA. This store was not really set up properly for a shop hop. The check-in for the hop was on the walkway outside the store and the line to check in interfered with new people coming in as well as people leaving. It didn't get much better inside the shop. This is a very small store with very narrow aisles, but it is absolutely jam packed with great fabric! There were baskets and crates of fat quarters all over the place, a huge selection of clearance fabrics ($5/yd), beautiful reproduction fabrics and a large selection of French General fabrics. The only problem? You couldn't really look at anything. You needed to weave in and out of the aisles and there were a lot of oeople in the store so you could really only look at things as you smushed along in line. I would love to visit this store again, but definitely not during a shop hop!

I enjoyed shopping at Quilts and Treasures Inc., in East Longmeadow, MA, but you have to go through a roundabout just before the store.  I don’t like roundabouts in general and that was the worst roundabout I’ve ever traveled.  There are even signs at every entrance to the roundabout saying “Dangerous Intersection” – no kidding.  Anyway, the drive from Sturbridge to East Longmeadow was absolutely wonderful.  It was primarily back roads, up and down hills and around curves through the Massachusetts countryside.  The weather was fantastic and the foliage was amazing.  Every curve we went around we were exclaiming about the beautiful scenery.  I’m sure there is an easier way to get to East Longmeadow, and I would probably not enjoy those back roads in winter, but it was an especially nice ride in Fall.  As for the store itself, it’s located in a strip mall; it has large, open aisles, and very good lighting.  The staff was energized and very friendly.  If someone paid in cash with exact change, they let out a yell and all the other sales clerks let out a whoop!  They also celebrated if someone bought a full bolt.  These girls were a fun bunch.  The store had a nice variety of fabric including a large supply of Thimbleberries fabric.

Bayberry Quilts in Chicopee, MA, is in a former house and the neighborhood it’s located in seems pretty run down.  It seemed like a random location for a quilt store.  As you might expect in an older home, the rooms are small and boxy.  The lighting wasn’t great and was even pretty bad.  Some of the fabric was located in a former closet – blacks and browns.  The lighting in that closet was very bad so you really couldn’t see the fabric very well.  The store did have a large selection of kits, but I thought they were a bit pricey.  On the plus side, they had a nice selection of clearance fabric and the snacks they set out for the hoppers were great!

My favorite store of the six I visited was Southampton Quilts in Southampton, MA.  Easy to get to, just 7 miles off the interstate, the store is located in what looks to be an office park.  There were sales clerks outside to greet us and some really beautiful samples hanging outside the store.  As soon as I walked in, there was a display of autumn-colored fabric that I was drooling over.  This store had several demos going on of rulers and other products on and so many gorgeous samples.  I bought four patterns as a result of seeing the sample quilts!  Even though it wasgetting to be late afternoon when we arrived, the salesclerks were all going strong and were very friendly and helpful.  I would definitely return to this store again.

Diana and the others finished the shop hop on Sunday and she told me all about the three stores I missed.  She liked those three stores the best, but found the staff in one of the stores to be a bit cranky by Sunday afternoon.  

Here are pictures of my non- fabric purchases:

Diana convinced me to try Best Press on my fabric before cutting. I'll let you know if the extra step seems worth it. The rest of my purchases were all patterns:

Southampton Quilts had some really beautiful samples that inspired me to buy these three patterns for small quilts.

This is a paper piecing pattern of a loon. My brother and sister would both really like this one.

A Crabapple Hill stitchery pattern for me.

Even though I already have two other bag projects in the works (Amy Butker's Weekender Bag and Fig Tree Quilts' One Piece a Bag), I couldn't pass up this pattern that uses fabric strips and clothesline.  Diana's made a few bowls using this method and she says it's easy, so I'm going to give the bag a try.

This was a great experience and I know it won’t be my last shop hop.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Massachusetts Quilt Shop Hop

I haven't been doing much sewing so far this month because my Dad was visiting from Arizona. He isn't able to go downstairs and I didn't want to leave him alone so I only managed to hand sew the binding on Mercerie. 

Dad left on Thursday to spend a week at my brother's house in Rochester. I had planned to get the house all cleaned and straightened on Saturday, but came home from work Thursday to find my sweet husband had it all done! So when my coworker, Diana, asked if I would like to go to the Massachusetts Quilt Shop Hop, I quickly said yes. Diana's sister, Alice, and Alice's friend, Judy, also went along.

There were 9 shops participating in the shop hop, but I only made it to six of them.  I left the house at 5:45 am in order to make it to Auburn, Ma., for the opening of the farthest shop, Appletree Quilts. That meant I had to be home by about 6:45 pm in order to let Maggie out. She's never had to hold it longer than 13 hours and she's getting older so I really didn't want to push it. 

We had a ton of fun and naturally I came home with some loot:

5" wide by WOF scraps for 75 cents!

 A few more stripes to add to my collection.


Neutral basics.

All of these fabrics were $5 / yard or less! 

The shop hop theme was "Tropical Vacation", so the giveaways were fat quarters of batiks. I don't use too many batiks, but I'll try to put these to use eventually.

And I finally bought some High Street fabric! Ok, these are mini charms, but that's all I found, so it will have to do. 

I'll be back later this week to show you my non-fabric purchases and tell you a bit about each of the stores.

Are you almost finished with Clover, the October Schnibbles pattern? I'm way behind this month. Next weekend looks like it's going to be busy too, so I really hope I can get it finished on time. 


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Quilted Schnibble!

Finally! A quilted Schnibble! I've been participating in the Schnibble parades every month since the spring and I've been able to finish the piecing each month but I haven't had the time to quilt and bind any of them - until now! 

Here's Mercerie all quilted, bound, and labeled! Yay!

It's not heavily quilted, but I think it's enough. It was all done with a walking foot - nothing but straight lines. 

I used tan colored thread so it would show up but not be too noticeable. 

It shows up better on the white backing. I quilted in the ditch around the outside and inside, then through the center of the "chains".  Then I quilted four-point stars in each white square and reappeared half or a quarter of the stars along the sides and in the corners. 

On the back the design kind of looks like faceted jewels. Cool!

I'm very happy with the way this turned out.  

Other than cutting all the fabric out, I haven't even started on Clover, the October Schnibble. I'd better get busy if I want to finish that one on time!




Monday, October 7, 2013

Lakeside Farms Cider Mill

Last weekend we had both boys home so we made our annual trek to Lakeside Farms in Ballston Lake, NY. 

I've been going to Lakeside a Farms since I was a little girl when I went with my parents and siblings. When I moved back to this area and got married, I started taking my husband and sons and it's become a yearly tradition for our family.

Inside the store is chock full with fresh produce and other locally made farm products like jams, jellies, sauces and soup mixes. There is also a bakery and deli as well as a fantastic breakfast and lunch restaurant. They still sell the same kinds of candies they did when I was a little girl including many kinds of candy sticks. 

Outside, there's the apple barn:

And hundreds of pumpkins. This little girl has hers all picked out:

You can buy cider donuts inside at the bakery counter, but we always buy ours from the trailer outside, fresh out of the deep fryer, still warm and covered with cinnamon sugar:

On weekends, the Cider Witch makes appearances from the roof of the farm store where she throws candy down to the kids:

We had a great time on our yearly visit. If you are ever up this way in the fall, make sure to stop by Lakeside Farms for a glass of cider and a donut (or two).


Friday, October 4, 2013

Scrappy Fall Runner

Remember those scrappy nine patch blocks I was making last week?

Well this week I finished piecing them then I quilted them in a cross hatch patter using orange thread on all the dark patches:

Here's the back side:

And now those scraps are turned into this pretty fall-colored runner for the cabinet in our living room:

This runner finished at 10 x 44 and fits the top of this cabinet perfectly! My husband and sons all said this was nice - simple piecing and not too feminine, so I guess that's probably why they all liked it!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Halloween Quilts

Happy October!

I love October. Three of my five siblings were born this month. I love the crisp autumn air and the changing leaves. I love pumpkins, apples, visits to the farm stand, apple picking, and hay rides, but I don't love Halloween. I'm not a huge fan of costumes, anything scary, or themed decorations. I tend to decorate in the colors of the season and in ways that represent nature - seasonal flowers, leaves, etc.

The scrappy autumn runner I hope to show you later this week is definitely my "style", as are two fall quilts from the past couple years:

Pumpkins - a mini quilt that measures 14 x 14. I used fusible web and hand embroidery to appliqué the pumpkins and leaves and a decorative leaf stitch on my sewing machine in the border. I love this mini quilt. 

Then there is this log cabin variation I made last year in orange and black fabrics. This one measures 12 x 18. The black and orange binding was my first attempt at bias binding and it worked out pretty well.

Both of those quilts are the style I'm comfortable with. So this year's mini quilt was a little bit outside my comfort zone, but I really wanted to make a quilt with candy corn and that idea turned into this:

Super bright colors, ghosts, a spider and spider web! I asked my husband which mini he wanted to hang at our house and he chose the traditional pumpkins, so the bright candy corn quilt is going to work to hang in my office.  Even though it's not really my style, I enjoyed making it and I know the girls at work will enjoy seeing it all month.