Saturday, December 29, 2012

Good news

I have some good news to share (as you already guessed from the title of this post).  I got an exciting email yesterday to tell me that I had a quilt accepted at QuiltCon.
Here's the overall shot- Thanks to my friend Cy Furlan for the great photos!

And here it is close up-

My sister also has some great news to share- she got tenure at her job!  This is the culmination of years of work for her (grad school, plus 6 years of research and teaching) and also the reason for our trip to Hawaii.
Here we are at the airport.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


The day after Christmas, I flew to Hawaii with my mom and my sister.  We were lucky to fly early in the morning, and miss the 8 inches of snow in Pennsylvania!
Our first stop today, after breakfast, was a great quilt shop called Quilt Passions.

We enjoyed the nice selection of batiks and Asian prints, and beautiful samples, including several lovely Hawaiian quilts.  I bought a metallic thread, and a silk thread, because I'd like to try a wider variety of threads in my FMQ.  My sister bought a kit to do a shasiko leaf block, and my mom got some fabric. 

Here's a fun promotion at Quilt Passions:  Whichever bolt is cut first each day is designated "Bolt of the Day" and anyone buying some gets 25% off.  We got there bright and early, thanks to jet lag, so this great blue swirly print my mom chose is Bolt of the Day.
We also enjoyed some sightseeing and a walk by the beach.  Here's the beautiful sunset

Friday, December 14, 2012

Making progress

I finished piecing the top of what I hope will be the first in a series of tree quilts.
One of my favorite things about this project is the variety of fabrics I used. There's a few thrifted shirts, a skirt my sister had made from quilting fabric that no longer fits me, and some great finds from my friend Linda's de-stashing.

Here's a close-up of a branch.  Curved piecing is time-consuming, but I really enjoy the process.  I think it's neat to see how the pieces come together, almost like a puzzle. 
Now I have to plan the quilting.  I'm thinking about a variety of free-motion designs, on a pretty small scale, with black, blue, and metallic threads.  But first I need some more practice since I've mostly quilted crib-sized or smaller projects.
For my next quilt in the Tree series, I think I might use more solids and try to show areas of sun and shadow on the tree. 
I'm linking up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All I want for Christmas is. . . a new sewing machine!

My mom came to visit over the weekend, and gave me the very special gift of picking out a new sewing machine.  It took some convincing to get me looking at new machines, because I have a strong sentimental attachment to Sally, the Singer 237 I learned to sew with.  But Sally has worked hard for years, and now her motor is on the way out. 
I also have Ethel, a lovely Singer 15-91 I bought from Craigslist last spring. I bought this machine because Internet research suggested it was the best vintage machine for freemotion quilting.  It is truly a sturdy workhorse with a very consistent stitch.  However, I have never been happy with FMQ on it.  Ethel has the old style foot pedal, or "button knob controller" to be precise, which I find uncomfortable and not responsive enough.  When I lift my foot, Ethel keeps going for 1 to 2 more stitches.  It doesn't show when I'm stippling, but in a pattern like Paisley, all those extra stitches look kinda messy.

So what I learned from buying Ethel is that reading reviews from other bloggers is only a first step, and there is no substitute for test driving a machine yourself.  I tested the Pfaff Ambition Essential, a few Janome models, and the Bernina 215.  I think that buying a machine is such a personal decision, because everybody has different preferences and does different types of sewing.  I know I will never make a buttonhole, I have no desire to do machine embroidery, and my ideal machine will do 3 stitches:  straight stitch, zigzag, and blind hem for invisible machine applique.  Sturdiness was the most important factor to me, and having grown accustomed to the all-metal innards of vintage machines, the plastic bobbin cases on the Pfaffs and Janomes just seemed like flimsy toys, at least for my needs.  So I decided that the slightly smaller harp size of the Bernina was easily outweighed by the metal bobbin case and sturdy vertical hook.  When I tried the floor model at the dealership, it made a beautiful stitch in free motion with no adjustment to the tension.  Yay!

So thanks again Mom!  I am very excited to roll up my sleeves and learn to use my new machine!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mariner's Compass block- finished!

In one of my quilting guilds, I signed up for the Secret Sister exchange. It's a great way to get to know people in the guild.  You indicate a few preferences about gifts you like, and give a few little suprise packages throughout the year.  Then, in November, you get to meet and thank your Secret Sister. I knew that my secret pal likes Mariner's Compass blocks, and 30's fabrics, so I decided to challenge myself to paperpiece a little wall hanging. I got it done just in time- our holiday meeting is on Tuesday, so I'll get to meet up with my own Secret Sister!
Here's a close-up view of the quilting.  I used Feather Fans, one of my favorite designs from Leah Day's great site.