Saturday, January 25, 2014

Grow Your Blog

It's that time again -- time to meet new bloggers and visit new blogs. If you're new to "52 Quilts in 52 Weeks," welcome! If you're a current follower, welcome back!

Grow Your Blog is the brainchild of Vicki at 2 Bags Full. Visit her blog to view the list of more than 200 blogs, all celebrating today!

About 52 Quilts

"52 Quilts in 52 Weeks" came about when I bragged in July of 2011 that I had made 35 quilt tops so far that year. Elder Son said "hey, that's almost one quilt per week!" And the challenge was on! Could I really make 52 Quilts in 52 Weeks?  Well, yes! I have for three years now, and I'm underway for a fourth! Younger Son insisted "52 quilts in 52 weeks is a great idea for a blog," so Thanksgiving weekend I dipped my toe in the blogging water.

The Younger Son (aka My Little Sailor, currently assigned to the USS George Washington aircraft carrier in Yokosuka, Japan) is my tech editor. He updates the blog header each year, and wrote a really touching blog post last Mother's Day. Best of all, he is a professional photographer, so my profile photo makes me look 10 years younger (and 20 pounds lighter!)

I've done a lot of test-sewing, twice for Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazine, for Amy Gibson's Sugar Block Club, and as a member of Quilty Pleasure's 2013 Scrap Squad. I've also test-sewn bags for Sara of Sew Sweetness and several other designers. I make a quilt for each of my Mother's great- and great-great grandchildren when they turn 12 (there's a lot of them!). Last November, I made a 25th Anniversary quilt for the first of my nieces and her husband to celebrate that milestone.

2012 ushered in my first monthly "UFO Challenge." I had been complaining about how slow the person whose UFO Challenge I was following had been about announcing what number quilt we were to work on that month. DH said "Hello, you could choose your own numbers!" So I did, and we're on the third year of the 52 Quilts UFO Challenge. NO, I'm not challenging readers to make 52 each year -- just one per month!  The UFO Parade kicks off the first day of each month, details here.

Quilters are always asked "when did you start quilting?" and "what kinds of quilts do you like to make?" Well, I made my first quilt when I was 9 years old. My family had just moved from our farm into town, and it was summer, and I had no friends yet. So my Mother showed me how to draw squares on fabric and cut them out with scissors -- this was long before rotary cutters! I made dozens of 9-patch blocks that weren't sewn together into a quilt top until years later.

The advent of the 1976 US Bicentennial brought many home crafts, including quilting, back into the national consciousness. I made my first "real" quilt using Eleanor Burn's "Log Cabin Quilt in a Day" pattern. Still no rotary cutters, so we clipped the selvages and tore across the width of the fabric to make strips. The quilt was nay blue and mauve calico -- the height of color fashion in 1976! Long arm machines and free motion quilting were as yet unheard of, so Mom and I tied the quilt with pink embroidery floss. I gave that quilt to the Goodwill in 1996 when my husband retired from the Air Force and we moved from Virginia to Colorado. Now I wish I hadn't!

Two years ago my friend Deb (The Dishcloth Diva) invited me to a meeting of the Front Range Modern Quilt Guild. It was my first experience with modern quilts, and I fell hard! I've only made a few quilts that I really consider "modern," but I love the modern fabrics. My favorite fabric designers include Anna Maria Horner, Pat Bravo and Lizzie House. I guess my style is "modern traditional," that is, traditional designs with modern fabrics.

There's a Giveaway!

Pattern designer and long-armer extraordinaire, Kristy Wolf of Sassafras Lane Designs, graciously donated one each of her entire pattern line for my Grow Your Blog giveaway. That's 12 (really, 12!) patterns! I've made several of her designs, including yesterday's 'Wiley Way." Go here to see all of their designs.

And "Main Street" (photo of final quilt will be posted March 7):

Here are photos of all the Sassafras Lane patterns:

Want to win? All you have to do is:

  1. Comment on this blog post. Tell me if you're a quilter or if your craftiness takes another form.
  2. If you're a no-reply blogger, please include contact info. If I can't find you, I can't send you the prize.
  3. My blog is set not to allow anonymous comments so that the robots cannot find me. If you do not have an ID, you can still enter by email at the address listed under "About Aunt Marti" in the right-hand column of this page and I will post your comment for you so you have a chance to win. 
  4. International entries welcome, of course!
  5. Giveaway ends Valentines Day, February 14 at noon Mountain Standard Time. The winner will be announced on Saturday, February 15.

Thanks for visiting. I hope you find some fun blogs today!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fast Friday Finish

One week from fabric purchase to in-the-mail! I think that's a record!

The first 12th birthday quilt of 2014 is ready to mail. It's for a great-nephew (or do you say grand-nephew?) who turns 12 next month. I asked his Daddy about a favorite color, and he told me Max is a big Chicago Bears fan.

Like I should know the color of the Chicago Bears' uniforms (they're a football team, right?)!

Conveniently enough, the colors for the Chicago Bears is the same as that of the Denver Broncos. Thank you, Google! I decided Max needs a "modern" quilt, and Sassafras Lane had just the pattern, "Wiley Way."

Kristy's directions are so well written, the quilt went together in two days. Would have been one day, but I ran out of Navy blue Northcott Solid. SO glad Ruth's Stitchery is only two miles away!

Colorado Springs received several inches of fluffy snow last night, so I had to take the photo inside. Sorry the entire quilt isn't visible! Here is the photo from the Sassafras Lane website, so you can see how the chevrons cross the quilt on the diagonal. Isn't it fun?

I quilted it on my Juki, stitching just inside the seamlines on the orange stripes and four times across the navy. Here's a shot of the backing -- and of course, Susie's Magic Binding!

Wiley Way is Quilt #3 for 2014. Good thing Strip Club is next Friday at High Country Quilts, I should be able to finish #4 just in time!

Linking up to Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday, this week at Quilty Habit.

LAFF - Richard and Tanya Quilts

And Link-a-Finish Friday at Richard and Tanya Quilts.

Tomorrow is the big "Grow Your Blog" event. I have a spectacular giveaway, please come back and enter!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday Tool: 4-Patches

One of the block Parties I belong to at Ruth's Stitchery is making Lori Holt's "Quilty Fun" row quilt this year.

Quilty Fun "Lessons in Scrappy Patchwork" by Lori Holt
 I'm making mine with American Jane's Potluck from Moda: 

Pot Luck Layer Cake by American Jane Moda 42-10" Fabric Squares 21640LC

With two rows finished, I am in love with this quilt!

I'll get on to the tutorial in a minute, but first I want to show you something exciting:

This quilt is "Hope Takes Flight," designed by my friend Melissa, who blogs at We Shall Sew. The pattern will be available free from Robert Kaufman in March. I used Mellie's technique to make the butterfly row for my Quilty Fun. It is just the most clever technique I've ever seen -- be sure to watch for the free pattern!

The next row is four patches. Lori has an unusual method to make scrappy four-patches, but I have to admit I prefer my Crosscut 4-Patch Square in a Square ruler from Jodi Barrows.

Here is the link to my tutorial for using this ruler.

When I'm making lots of four-patches that are the same, I like to layer the two pieced strips, then cut. Like this:

The place the ruler so the center line matches up with the seam and cut:

A good trick to remember when piecing is to have the seam facing away from you and on the top layer. That way, the seam is forced to "nestle" and will be perfectly aligned.

To make the block lie flat, make a "mini" four-patch on the seam side of the block.. like this:

  1. After stitching the both two-patches together into a four-patch, look at the seam you just stitched.
  2. Where the two seams intersect, there are three or four stitches to the end of the seam perpendicular to the one you just sewed. Pick out those stitches to the seam line that crosses them.
  3. Now place the four-patch on the ironing board seam-side up and "wiggle" the center with your finger. It will open up and you can press it flat on the wrong side.  

Extra credit if your nail polish matches your fabric!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday BOM Day

This week's BOM is no ordinary Block of the Month.

Rather than four rows of three blocks, this one is put together in seemingly random parts. It's "Sample This!" from A Quilter's Dream.

I made another quilt from the same designer last Fall and found the pattern challenging. Sample This! is definitely not for the beginning quilter, nor for the faint-of-heart. It somewhat reminds me of European knitting patterns -- it assumes the person making the project knows a lot about quilting! Lucky for those of us making this quilt as a Block Party at Ruth's Stitchery, Cathy sews each step ahead of us and has lots of good tricks to make things easier.

The hardest part of this pattern is determining what fabric goes where. Cathy recommended using a large piece of cardboard to arrange the eight fabrics needed in the first section of the quilt.

The "focus fabric" is used in each section:

I cut only one fabric at a time, so I could keep each with its assigned number:

I also made labels for each of the half-square triangle combinations:

Then arranged each section on my cardboard:

It took four hours to make these two sections! Whew!

And I am making the same quilt from two colorways, so I have the same two sections ahead of me!

Linking up to BOMs Away at What a Hoot.

Come back tomorrow for a tutorial on making lots and lots of four-patches!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday is for Scraps -- and Football!

Big day in the States. Two football playoff games: one with the local team, one with the hometown team.

I live in Colorado:

But my heart is in Seattle!

In the meanwhile, I'm working on my Celtic Solstice mystery.

You know, those colors match my nails today!

Linking up to Kim's Big Quilting Adventure Scrap Basket Sunday.

Scrap Basket Sunday

I have something completely new on the design wall for tomorrow! 
I hope you'll come back and see.

From the desk of your auntmartisignature