Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pattern Giveaway

Good Sunday, everyone:

We're finally enjoying a beautiful week-end here in Calgary after hail and localized flooding this past week.  Thank goodness we weren't flooded, although we did get the hail. It's amazing how a few blocks can make a difference in the weather you get here. I'm looking forward to "summer" finally starting!

In case you're cruising the internet this afternoon, check out the blog posting at Buttermilk Basin Design Studio. They are giving away $50.00 in free patterns - your choice! Sounds like a great opportunity to me as I love getting new patterns, especially if I can get them free. But you'll need to hurry as this giveaway is only open until 11:00 p.m. tonight - and I think that's 9:00 p.m. my time.

Good luck and enjoy the rest of your week-end.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Quilting, yes, quilting!

If you've been reading my posts, you'll know that I design, make and quilt my quilts myself. I have a B-Line 18 mid-arm sewing machine on a B-Line Studio Frame. In simple terms, I have a large wooden frame in my basement with a large sewing machine on it so I can machine quilt my projects. I really like the B-Line products from To Be Quilting and have never had any problems until I got this machine. For some reason, I have been having stitching issues with it. I've tried all the usual remedies and Julie and Horst from To Be Quilting have gone above and beyond in helping me with these problems. They've even stopped in and spent a few hours trying to rectify this situation. Finally, we changed out the encoder wheels and this has fixed the problem (cross your fingers!).  But what I really wanted to note was how much time you can spend quilting a quilt when your machine isn't really performing up to par. 

Up until this problem was fixed, my typical quilting session was to start quilting, stop after about 5 minutes,  unstitch the previous stitches, start all over again, stop again, unstitch the stitches - well, you can imagine. I would spend hours, even days, quilting a lap-size quilt. Of course the frustration level was high - and the air was often blue - as I tried to adjust and continue on. But I was determined to persevere and finish that quilt. 

Now that my machine is running smoothly (thank you long-arm gods!), I can't believe how quickly I can finish a quilt. I just completed two charity quilts for Victoria's Quilts in Calgary and was astounded that I did one in one afternoon and the other in one evening. This included loading the quilt on the frame and deciding on the thread and quilt motif that I would use (probably the longest part of the process). 

I finally realize why my friend, Cathy, a long-arm quilter, couldn't understand why it was taking me so long to get my quilts quilted. 'Cause after all, "it ain't a quilt until it's quilted"! Hopefully now I'll have lots more "quilts" in the house.

Note: I no longer own the B-Line 18 machine as I have sold it and upgraded to a Handi Quilter Infinity as of December 2015.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Country Creations Quilt Show

Last week-end, I took a drive in the country with my daughter, Sarah. We weren't looking for fruit stands, but rather were going to Country Creations for a mini quilt show. Now, I don't know about you, but a quilt show to me is several things: quilts (of course!), sales (even better) and quilters (the best!). Lorraine Stangness, the designer behind Country Creations, and her staff always put on an excellent show and all of the above are well represented there. Lorraine has a large quilt show every other year, but I knew that it would be worth the drive to attend this year's show and I was not disappointed. 

Lorraine has several books and many patterns, the majority of which use the connector corner technique in construction. I have purchased many of her patterns over the past few years and value them for their clear, concise instructions and wonderful diagrams, usually in full colour. I purchased a few more of her patterns to add to my collection on my latest visit. 

In addition to the wonderful quilts on display, Lorraine also had several of her sample quilts available for sale. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but I also admire Lorraine's quilting expertise. Lorraine teaches machine quilting at local shops and is a wonderful and informative teacher. Now I examine her samples to see how many different quilting motifs she used in that particular quilt. I'm always amazed at the selection of quilting motifs and the amount of work that she puts into her quilts, all, of course, beautifully done. 

This year Lorraine was selling off some of her quilting books and I was fortunate enough to purchase several at great prices. I love collecting books and have lately started to add older books to my library. Lots of great design ideas there and many wonderful reference books. I also bought some fabrics, particularly batiks as they were on at such great prices. 

If you are in the Calgary/Strathmore area next year in early July, stop in at Country Creations for the "big" quilt show. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What a great link!

I spend most of my time designing quilt patterns or making samples for the patterns that I've designed. It's like a 9:00 to 5:00 job, except that I fit it in around making breakfast, making lunches, getting kids to school, grocery shopping, housecleaning (well, sometimes!), etc. While I have no problem thinking up lots of new design ideas, I often have a problem getting down to making the patterns and writing the instructions. Yes, I'll admit it, I'm a procrastinator. It's amazing how many things I can find to get in the way of work and it's ironic that the very thing that helps me in my designing is almost my worst obstacle to accomplishing things - the computer. 

In the old days (pre-home computers), quilt patterns would be drafted using your imagination, some graph paper and a pencil and eraser. You would write or type out your instructions and then they would be copied and sold. At least I'm guessing that's how it would be done, since I've never done it that way. My laptop was already well broken in when I started designing patterns and I was already an Electric Quilt afficionado. I use software to design my quilts, draw my appliqué shapes and write instructions. So this means that I'm on the computer for a significant portion of each day. So what's the problem with that, you ask? Well, once I'm working on the computer, I tend to get a little, shall we say, distracted by what else is available there. 

Now before you start thinking that I'm cruising inappropriate websites, let me clarify... I get distracted by emails and quilting websites. I'm also on Facebook, so that has to be checked frequently throughout the day, contrary to what my husband says. This wouldn't be so bad if I only looked at the recent entries and then moved on to my actual work, but wait, look at the link to that great new fabric - and who would've thought that you could do appliqué that way? See what I mean? I'm a link-aholic. I can't resist investigating all that information that is waiting for me just be clicking on links posted by other quilters. Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate all that information and learn a lot, but it does cut down on my productivity. 

I know that I need more self-control to just say no to the links and get back to my own work, but I have a really hard time doing that. I'm hoping that someday someone invents computer blinders, like they use on horses, to keep me focussed on my own work and avoid being distracted by all the other information on the internet. If you think you can help me out, just send me an email - or a link!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pattern Draw Winner!

I recently had a draw for two patterns: one of my own and one that was graciously donated by my friend, Kay Mackenzie. "Sweet" by Kay Mackenzie is a luscious and low-cal array of tempting treats which you can create using your favourite appliqué technique. While Kay usually prefers a needle-turn appliqué technique, I am partial to fusible web appliqué and could see making this project with either technique. 

"Hootie" is actually not a quilt pattern at all, but rather a trio of charming owl stuffies. Although it is not quilting, per se, the pattern does use fusible web appliqué when applying the owls' features. While the owls in the photo are unembellished, you can use crystals, beads and trims to enhance the owls. I can see Momma Hootie putting on the glitz with a pearl necklace and earrings, while Poppa Hootie has crystal buttons down his chest. The possibilities are endless and the choice is yours!

Congratulations to Pat Clarke, who won the draw.
Have fun adding your own personal touch to both of these whimsical patterns.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Jasper, AB

We just got back from a quick trip to Jasper, Alberta, Canada. The kids had never been and it has been years since my husband and I had been there, so it was time to visit. Also, there is a quilt shop there, so how could I say no?! 

On the way up to Jasper, we visited the Columbia Icefield, where it actually was snowing - on July 2! It certainly makes you realize how small we really are on this earth when you see this huge glacier and the geography that it has carved out. There are plaques indicating where the glacier was in different years, so you get an idea as to how much it has receded. The picture at the left gives you an idea of the immensity of the glacier (I'm in the red jacket). You can also take tours and walks on the glacier, but I didn't want to fall down a crevasse, so I passed on that one! Last time I was there we did take a snow cat up onto the glacier and were able to get out and walk around. I remember that it was very cold and slippery - like walking on a wet ice cube!

After our fill of the glacier, we got back in the car and then stopped at Athabasca Falls. Beautiful scenery and warmer than on the glacier. I was impressed by the walkways that had been put there - I can't imagine how much work that must have been. Again, you can see how the forces of nature have carved out the landscape. 

From here it was on to Jasper, where we stayed at the Mt. Robson Inn. A suite with a separate room with bunk beds and a PS3 for the kids - heaven! There were even two separate and complete bathrooms with a frig and microwave. Everyone was happy. While wandering around downtown Jasper, I managed to find Stychen Tyme Quilt & Yarn Shop. It's both a quilting and yarn store, so a bought a little of both! Isn't it funny how you always manage to find something new in every shop you visit? The husband and kids managed to find an ice cream shop so they whiled away a bit of time while I completed my shopping.

The next day it was up the Jasper Tramway to the top of Whistlers Mountain where you have a panoramic view of six mountain ranges, the Athabasca and Miette rivers and Jasper itself. We saw a mountain goat and a pika while there as well as wildflowers and snow. Luckily we went up early enough that it wasn't very crowded; I can't say the same for the crowd at the bottom when we came down. 

Now it was time to head back to Calgary and home. I've already thought up some projects for the fabric that I bought on our trip. Now, I wonder if they have a quilt shop in the south part of the province...

Quilt Chatter from Chatterbox Quilts

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