Monday, April 27, 2009

I keep making a "Trip Around the World"


Recently, Kathie asked if anyone made series of quilts. I didn't think I had until I was inspired by Karen to take a good look at my own collection of finished and unfinished quilts. I have made a series of the "Trip Around the World" design. It was one of the first patterns I learned (I modified the Eleanor Burns' method) and I used to teach it as a class at Cottonseed Glory quilt shop in Annapolis, MD. The pattern I use takes a half yard each of 24 different fabrics and makes a large quilt. You can make it square or keep adding rows to elongate it a bit.

The picture above shows my very first "Trip" which I started many years ago--probably 1994. I was quite proud of it and determined to hand quilt the whole thing even though I'd never hand quilted a large quilt before. I figured I needed a quilt frame and ordered one that needed to be stained and assembled before I could use it. I did not think that idea all the way through and was amazed at the size of the contraption once I got it finished. Of course, my husband was not pleased when he saw the new addition to the living room. Also, I should have practiced loading the quilt before starting the quilting. I quilted about 1/10th of the surface while the top was in the big "quilting bee" frame and then had to dismantle. So, I basted the whole thing before removing it. Once I got it out, I discovered I'd loaded the layers wrong and the back was about 2 inches short of the top on one end. That's a problem I have yet to deal with. I am still working on the project periodically (about once every 2-3 years) in a lap hoop. I am pleased with how the quilting looks now that I've made some serious progress. The large "quilting bee" frame is in the rafters of the garage.


This quilt below I call Blueberries and Sunshine. For awhile, I loved everything blue and yellow. I gave most of those I completed to my (very deserving) sister-in-law. This top was machine quilted shortly before I went on my five year "quilting hiatus" due to school and full-time work demands. Now, I just don't have the stamina to crawl around on the floor to prepare it for binding. I need to get around to asking the local quilt shop if I can come in and use their tables. I hope they agree since when this one was a top it was a shop sample for a lot of classes.


This is another one that is already machine quilted and just waiting to be bound. This is one that I made into a rectangle by adding more rows. It is BIG and HEAVY. I am not looking forward to wrestling the binding onto it.


I also went through a phase where I made a variation of the TATW called "Irish Trip." It is a pattern designed and taught by Elizabeth Carlson. One lesson I learned from this quilt was to make sure you buy some extra if it is not going to be "scrappy." I didn't buy enough of the dark rose fabric and when I went back to the shop a few days later to buy more, it had BURNED! The staff of this shop truly went above and beyond in customer service for me. The pink section of their fabrics was not burned, but was smoke damaged. They washed the 1/4 yard of fabric I needed until it smelled just fine and I was able to finish my quilt. Beth Carlson did lose a lovely teaching sample in the fire but she had enough fabric left over to recreate it. This one was hand quilted for me by a company called Bellwether Dry Goods. Another lesson learned the hard way is don't use busy backing/border fabrics if you are going to pay for lovely hand quilting. You cannot see the beautiful scrolls quilted into the borders of this quilt. I still love its soft pastel colors and it spent many years on my daughter's bed. The batting has pilled a lot on the back and would be a disaster if it was a dark color.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Day Trip: The Chicago International Quilt Festival

As I mentioned in my last post, last Friday I took a trip to my first "major" quilt show. The show was very good and the vendor section was great. Never having been to Houston or Paducah, I don't know how it stacks up to other national shows, but it was enough to satisfy me. The experience was something like white water rafting. The first part of the trip was relaxing, satisfying and deceptively calm. Upon entering the exhibit hall, the crowds were thin and there was ample space to wander around viewing the quilts at leisure. As I slowly made my meandering way toward the end of the exhibits, I sensed things were changing. The background noise grew perceptibly louder and I began to be buffeted by more and more people. Suddenly, I turned a corner and plowed headlong into the vendor section and more people in one place than I've seen in a very long time. I bounced back and forth between quilters and exhibitors and it was thrilling.


Some of my favorite exhibits at the show were the Country Living Classics, Traditional Treasures VI and 19th Century Patchwork Divas displays. I am including a few of the pictures I took.
There were many vendors' booths that enticed me to add to my pattern, fabric and notions collections. I've already mentioned Schoolhouse Quilts (the bag is still missing). I was also particularly pleased to see Lori Smith's (From My Heart to Your Hands) samples in "real life." The photos on her patterns do not do justice to the rich colors and texture created by the quilting stiches on her models. The way she frames her finished small quilts makes them look like expensive antique quilts.

I have a favorite Chicago area shop, The Quilt Merchant, that I discovered on a business trip last fall. They were featured in Quilt Sampler magazine within the last 2 years and I do believe I heard angels singing the first time I stepped through their doors. They specialize in reproduction fabrics! I cannot wait until business takes me back to Chicago next fall so I can visit them again. Their samples are delicious and their staff is wonderful. On my first trip, I had a very tight timeline and wasn't sure if my schedule would allow me to visit the show and finish the business that took me to Chicago in the first place. I called the shop to get directions and the person who answered the phone (I am sorry I cannot remember her name) actually mapped my route from the airport to the Quilt Merchant to my event in downtown Chicago and emailed it to me! Needless to say, they were on the itinerary for my second trip to town, as well. I bought the kit pictured below at the show and if you look closely you will see the red bundle that caused TSA such consternation.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

RIP...My big bag of new Judie Rothermel fabrics


Friday was a very fun day for me because I went to the International Quilt Festival (more on that in my next post) in Chicago. But, Saturday, I discovered I suffered a sad loss somewhere on my trip home. As you know, I LOVE reproduction quilts and reproduction fabrics. Naturally, the Judie Rothermel designs for Marcus Brothers fabrics are at the top of my list. Judie had a booth (Schoolhouse Quilts) at the quilt show and I went there intending to buy lots of fabric. I did not disappoint. They have these wonderful little bundles of some of her older prints (kinda pricey) and competitive prices on fat quarters of her current lines. I amassed a nice basket full of tightly folded fat quarters, pricey small bundles and even pricier cellophane wrapped packages of other prints. I can't resist a good fabric presentation.

Naturally, the Schoolhouse Quilts booth wasn't the only one I visited and I had a large canvas tote bag brimming with new toys. I was on a day trip so I had no other baggage. However, with my purse, my canvas bag and my stuffed bag of Judie Rothermel fabrics, I was over the "carry on" limit of "two items per person." I was going to consolidate when I got to the gate but the security personnel at O'Hare were testy (it was a Friday evening) and the security officer in charge of line management told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to consolidate right then and there before I went through the x-ray experience. So, I plunked by bag of repro fabrics on top of the other stuff in my canvas bag and proceeded to the x-ray examination.

Quilt purchases can really raise the suspicions of airport security, let me tell you. They ran that bag back and forth three times before taking my bag and me to the manual search area. They took everything out, went through my assorted smaller plastic bags and quizzed me about the nature of a suspicious quilt kit. I will admit, that brick shaped bundle with a bow tied around it looked pretty insidious when held under my nose by TSA officials. The TSA officer searching my stuff was very nice, but definitely was not a quilter. She took my consolidated bag and told me it would be easier in several parts (tell it to the zealous woman managing the line) and sent my stuff through again. Unfortunately, something was still raising a red flag. So, apart my bag went again until TSA discovered the pincushion pictured above. If you ever take a sand stuffed pincushion with you through airport security, you might want to declare it up front so you don't wind up with about 50 people checking out how much quilt stuff you can buy at one show. It seems that little bugger looks like it might be a b**b.

Anyway, after I got my belongings back I proceeded to the gate with slippery plastics bags dripping everywhere. I tried to reorganize while waiting for my delayed flight but I think I might have missed my bag of repro fabrics and boarded the plane without it. Or, it might have slipped out on the plane, I just don't know. I have called United Airlines lost and found both at O'Hare and BWI but I am not holding my breath. I hope that someone found that bag and loves reproduction fabrics as much as I do and can put them to good use. I am in mourning.
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