Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Shakespeare shake up!

I've been asked by my dear friend Dr. J to help costume a Shakespeare show that she is directing. I am working with a very talented costumer who has done plenty of these types of gigs. Tonight we chatted about what will be our next step in costuming the 4 brides in "As You Like It" done by the Riverside Shakespeare Festival, in St. Charles, MO. These dresses are the concepts given to us by the director for 2 of the brides.
The main costumer has many costumes in her collection that may fit the criteria that the director has given us. So building new costumes may not be something I will have to cram into the next week's agenda, because they may already exist! Problem is, tonight and tomorrow were two really big chunks of time that I was going to dedicate to the process of building, but I don't know what to build! Hope once decisions are made that I can actually squeeze them into my schedule, because one week from Saturday, I'M GOING TO DISNEYWORLD! Costumes that I need to do need to be done by then! Well, there's always quilting that I can use my time and fabric for!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day in quilt form

It's Memorial Day weekend. We need to remember those who have served in our military forces and many who have lost their lives while serving. My father and father-in-law were in World War II, and my brother served in the Army during the Vietnam era. I have my father's flag that was draped on his coffin when he died. The patriotic theme of decorating is very close to many peoples hearts. So, finding quilt fabrics with this theme is relatively easy, and there is quite a good selection.
My friend Sharon asked me if I would make a quilt for their church in Steelville to use as a raffle item for their summer fundraiser. I told her, "Sure!" and sought out fabrics for the project. I used this simple quilt pattern called "Jelly Roll Race" where you sew jelly roll strips together to form a long strip, then begin sewing the strip together, matching the ends and sewing the two strips together. Once you have done that, you cut that strip in half, sew those together, making a two strip wide piece grow to a 4 strip wide piece, which is half as long. You keep doing this until you have 32 rows of strips. It is a quick and easy pattern, and turns out very colorful and "scrappy" looking when you are finished.
Here is a picture of the different fabrics that are in the jelly roll race quilt, close up.
I always make pillowcases for my quilts, so here are the finished pillow cases for this quilt. I think I love these! I may look for more fabric so I can make some of these that I can keep.
I found this awesome flag fabric for the backing, and it was really inexpensive. Often the backing ends up costing more than the actual quilt, because you need a lot of fabric to use in it. Hope they all like it and that they make a lot of money on their raffle. Happy Memorial Day!

The Boys and their quilts

My grandsons who live in Iowa all have birthdays from January to May. The littlest one's birthday is 3 weeks after Christmas, so I didn't know what to give him then. The other two had birthdays in April and May. Grandma needed to give them gifts. So, of course, it would have to be quilts!
The older boys love pirates and share a room. So I used a layer cake collection of fabric that had the pirate theme. The collection had two color palettes, and I didn't love them together, so I separated them into black, red and white for the oldest boy.
And the middle child got the blue,green and brown palette.
I started and stopped a couple of times deciding on what to make for the youngest. It was going to be based on a transportation theme somehow. I had several collections of fabrics started when I spotted this "BusyTown" licensed fabric, I fell in love and purchased it.
I also made pillowcases for each boy to go with their quilts. In the pillowcases were the quilts, a book for bedtime reading, and a gift card to Toys R Us, just in case the quilts didn't make an impression.
I think they were a hit. Within a day, they were snuggled in their quilts, reading their books, and making their grandma happy!
My youngest grandchild is a snuggle bug, and slept with me the first night I was there. He is quite a cutie, and loved his quilt, and was carrying it around and hiding under it the whole time I was there. His BusyTown book has some of the same pictures that are on the quilt, which really excited him. There is also a BusyTown cartoon show on cable TV, which we watched on Saturday. This was a good choice on my part, becsuse it really excited them.
It was a really fun weekend, and I was glad to be with my grandsons, who I haven't seen since Christmas. We had a great time together.

Patternista Story

This is the story of Patternista. She is my most complicated quilt that I've made so far in my quilting journey that started as a frenzy last fall. Each day, I get an email from a little quilt business in Hamilton, MO, advertising their "Daily Deal". They give a great discount on one item in their inventory, with the hope that you'll buy something else fill out your purchase to get enough fabric to complete a project. I must admit, I almost needed an intervention to keep me from daily purchase of the daily deals! But when I saw this pattern of fabric, there was no helping me, I HAD TO HAVE IT! It is called Patternista, and the designs in the fabrics just spoke to my soul. The patterns were retro inspired, and "Spirograph" comes to mind for many of them. The colors were batik quality, purples, roses, soft and bright greens and blues, with a pop of yellow and orange. What's not to love? My creative juices started to flow big time! My little quilt business, Missouri Star Quilt Company, also does online free tutorials on how to use their precut fabrics. This precut is called a jelly roll, which has 40 strips of fabric from the entire line cut in 2-1/2" strips across the width of fabric. There are endless patterns available for using jelly roll, but the one pattern I found that I liked was making an 8 pointed star, using the jelly roll strips and a background fabric.
So I set to work making my blocks out of the strips and fabric. Here is what I created my first session of fooling around with the pattern. The actual quilt that Jenny Doan showed in her tutorial was based on making intertwining stars that look like this. I made blocks, but then couldn't for the life of me figure out how to make the stars intertwine. The name of the pattern is "Stars Aligned". Now, I can usually figure out how to put blocks together, but I couldn't figure this one out. I had to purchase the pattern to find out how to do it.
It turns out that you need to build the intertwining stars as you add sashing. Figuring out where to put the colors and which colors to use was somewhat complicated, so I laid them out in color patterns to keep my thinking straight. The quilt ended up very beautiful. I took a picture of the completed top, and sent it to Missouri Star. They actually posted my picture on their Facebook page advertising the fabric pattern. I decided to bite the bullet and have it professionally quilted by Missour Star, and when I got it back, Jenny had written me a personal note saying how pretty she thought it was. I was so flattered! I bound it and put it on the bed with its collection of pillows. I felt like a princess laying on a bed so gloriously decorated.
I finished it and put it on the bed, and of course, Al the cat went on it immediately! He had to make it his own. This is what was in my future to keep it looking nice.
I needed to use this at least twice a day to keep the quilt looking pretty. Al deposited a great deal of blonde fur on the quilt as he lolled around taking his 11 2-hour naps a day. I was gone over the weekend, and you should have seen it after 4 days of no lint rolling! It was a mess! While I was gone last weekend, I got to actually visit Missouri Star Quilt Company twice, once on Friday and once on Monday, on my way to and from Des Moines Iowa to visit my son and his family. My visit on Friday was so fun, because they showed me the entire place, including the back room with the shelves piled to the ceiling with all the beautiful fabrics they stock. The only thing that I missed was seeing Jenny, because she was at the quilt market that weekend. The girls invited me back on Monday to see Jenny.
When I came back Monday, Jenny and Ron, her husband, were right outside their new building. You see, this little business is growing so much, they had to get a new place to expand their business. Meghan took me on a tour of the new store, which has been completely refurbished from the studs out for their new retail space. The old smaller building will hold all of the fabrics they sell in their online business. More "Daily Deals" for us customers! I got to spend about an hour chatting with Jenny. She was like my long-lost best friend, she is the "real deal", and I love and respect her so much for what she has done for quilters around the world. So many have learned from her, and now support her business because it is based on "family-friendly service", and great products. Jenny mentioned in our chat how much she loved my quilt and wished I could make one for her shop.
Since the black quilt is no longer on my bed, and is looking for a home, Jenny said she would adopt it! It is now on its way to Hamilton, MO, to take its place among the other beautiful samples displayed at the Missouri Star company store, soon to be opened in their new digs. I am so honored to have it there, and Patternista has had quite a journey! To my readers--I don't write like this. Blogger updated its format about a month ago, and it will not paragraph! Sorry for such a globby mess of writing. I'm ready to go to a new format for my blogs, unless they change this!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Junior Sewists

I was watching my grandkids all day Saturday, and we were looking for something to do to pass the time. I decided to break out the sewing machine and fabrics and start to teach my granddaughter to sew. I have been planning a day like this for over a year. She has always taken an interest in my sewing since she was about 4. (Now going on 7) We had tried several toy sewing machines, but they only led to frustration because they would stop working very quickly after we would start. So I decided to bite the bullet and purchase an inexpensive adult sewing machine (Janome, my favorite brand) and teach her to use it safely. We had never gotten a chance to work with it. I tried the machine out a couple of weeks ago for the first go round with it, taking it to a costuming gig to use to modify costumes. It worked fine for that. But before that test run, I found out that Janome makes several models of machines geared for young girls, with the "Hello Kitty" logo on them. I decided this was the thing that would be the motivator for her, and I purchased the machine. Well, when I got it, I found out it was exactly the same machine as the one I had purchased a year ago, except it was painted blue and cost $30 more! Same features and functions. So I broke out the "Hello Kitty" machine Saturday and we were off! She loved it, she learned quickly, and was competently sewing short seams without any problems. I found a cheap $2 charm pack, I decided I could give this up for some practice, and we started to put together a quilt for her teddy bear. That went together quickly and she wanted more to do. Her brother suggested a pillow for bear, so we found fabric for that, plus some left over batting for the stuffing. (He had the right idea, when he told us we could put cotton balls into it to stuff it.) Meantime, he was playing video games. We took a couple of breaks for lunch, a park session, and a terrible hail storm, after which we collected large 2" hailstones like Easter Eggs after the storm passed. Then, her brother decided that he wanted to take a crack at sewing something. Well, wasn't I prepared for that! I had a perfect companion for her sewing machine, my plain Jane model that I had purchased that was exactly the same as Hello Kitty. He caught on quickly also, although his sister kept proclaiming that she was better at it than he. They were both hard at work making seams, sewing together squares, sewing layers upon layers of fabric together. Hello Kitty is a trooper, because at one time, I think she sewed 12 layers of fabric together and the machine managed to take on the task. I am proud of them for their interest, and how quickly they picked up the skills needed to sew simple things. He wanted to make his little 6 patch quilt bigger and make it into a 9 patch. There is a special design for quilts called disappearing 9 patch, we'll try that if he wants to do it, and it will make an interesting patchwork quilt.
After making the quilt for bear and the pillow, she sewed this little shirred top dress. It has one seam at the back. I sewed the ties, but she sewed them on. She looks so cute in it!