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Aug 31, 2010

Cherry Grove Wedding

Aug 31, 2010
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In some much needed vacation time, we headed Up North in Michigan to a small town a few miles north of Traverse City called Omena, MI.  Through some fluke events that involved the Vatican sending priests on retreat to our original lodging, we got to stay in a wonderful eco-home due to the friendly outreach of the locals in the area.


We stayed right on the bay of Lake Michigan and since the baby is always up early when traveling, we watched a couple sunrises.  Reminds you of the simplicity of life and makes you slow down to enjoy life happening, instead of just rushing through it.



The family wedding which was the reason for the trip was held on the rolling hills of a cherry grove farm.  A big tent set up right next to the barn and bathhouse.  What a perfect night for a wedding!  Pictured above is the inside of the barn decorated for mingling.

Ahhh.  So now, it's back to reality.....  here we are at home, and after 10 days of being away, I am itching to go quilt!
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Aug 27, 2010

Follower Friday Special: An Interview with Leah Day

Aug 27, 2010
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Welcome to a very SPECIAL edition of Follower Friday at Gen X Quilters! This week I have an in-depth interview with professional quilter Leah Day of Day Style Designs and 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting Filler DesignsShe graciously accepted this detailed look into her quilting life.  Grab a cup of tea before you sit down and read her fascinating interview.  Hope you like!



How old were you when you learned to sew?  Who taught you?

My mother taught me basic hand sewing when I was probably 5 or 6. I then annoyed her
constantly by wanting to play in her scrap basket!

Eventually we got an old singer sewing machine, but it was so old and horrible no one ever
really used it. It wasn't until I was in high school that I started looking for new feet and new
bobbins for it and eventually turned it into a pretty good machine.

I really wanted to learn how to quilt throughout my childhood, but the only books I had were
ones I picked up from thrift stores - you know, the ones that were written in the 1970s before
rotary cutters and during a time when everyone was color blind? HA!

So I didn't learn to quilt until I was 21 when I was getting married. I wanted a Double
Wedding Ring Quilt and decided to embark on that project 1 month before my wedding using
dress satin. Not suprisingly that quilt never did get finished!


Do you sew other things or strictly quilts?

Not anymore. I used to sew clothing and occasionally I'll put together a jacket or a big pillow
or something silly, but generally I stick with quilts.

When I was a kid, I always had 50 million projects from all different types of hobbies:
beadwork, knitting, sewing, crochet, weaving. I never really mastered any one of them
because I didn't focus on just one.

When I started quilting I was finally at the point in my life that I could choose one craft and not
feel horribly disapointed about the projects I wouldn't make with all the others.



Do you have an art degree? How did you turn into a professional quilter?

Nope. Art degrees and other assorted bits of paper are not really needed for quilting - except
to use as stabilizer!

I was a biology major before I dropped out of college, and I've never really bought into the
whole "educated artist" thing. I have family members that have masters in art and no actual
art to show for it. That seems like a real waste of time and money to me.

I became a professional quilter quite by accident really. I just got sick of feeling like I was
swimming around in the beginner / intermediate quilter crowd and finally decided to get
serious.

Quilting every single day will really improve your skill very quickly. So will designing and
creating a wholecloth white quilt! I took on that challenge and by the end of it, my skill had
tripled. I'd also figured out all of the little things like tools and machine setup that might have
taken me years to figure out otherwise.

I don't really think I was a great quilter (certainly not an "expert!") when I started the free
motion quilting project a year ago. My skill again went through a radical change stitching
through all the designs. It just made me think and move differently to have that challenge.

I still have a long way to go and I'm always learning. That's the way it is with all crafts though
- true mastery is understanding that "mastery" is not the point.



Where do you get your inspiration? Specifically, for the Goddess series we've all been watching....

My girls just pop into my head. I hate being vague, but that's really where they come from!
Usually I'll be thinking about an issue I'm struggling with and a goddess image will appear
fully formed.

It wasn't until I finished my first really big goddess that I realized that by quilting out the
image, the issue, whatever it was, also gets quilted out.

So I guess inspiration for the goddesses really comes from my personal, icky "stuff" and
trying to find some way to express it, and then in the process get the hell over it so I can
move on with my life!

My Cup Runneth Over


For the designs, I get inspiration everywhere. I follow every single "what if?" and keep my
eyes peeled at wallpaper, carpets, stair railing, etc. I also occasionally sit down with the
designs I've already created and flip through them to see if there's variations I've missed.
With 209 designs created, I'm not too worried about finishing the project because there's so
many designs still bouncing around in my head ready to come out!



How did you decide to do "365"?

At the time, 365 didn't sound like a lot. Naïve? Oh yes! Insane? Probably.

I just really wanted a challenge. If I'd set the goal for 50 or 100, it would have been a cool
project, but I wouldn't have followed every idea, every question, every design possibility I
could and because of that, I might have missed many designs that I now really love.

My understanding of FMQing has also really expanded. I can look at a space on my quilt
now and understand why one design works better than another, why some designs are a
total bitch to stitch, and why some are so super popular they've been overused for years.

When I started the blog, I didn't really get the difference between one stitch and another, but
by using them in my quilts over this last year, I've created a whole theory behind how to use
them.

I guess it's kind of like an artistic study. I started wanting inspiration and a meal for my
creativity to munch on, and at the end I have this huge quantity of potential designs just
waiting to play with!



How did you learn Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)?

I took a class on machine quilting first, but the teacher really focused on using the walking
foot more than free motion.

So it wasn't until my 4th quilt that I decided I needed to learn how to stipple. I created this
huge pink quilt and pieced it into 6 sections so it would be easy to quilt. I was living in this
little apartment and literally quilting in the space beside my bed, so the quilt had to be in small
chunks.

I wanted to stipple, but I didn't really know what I was doing. I just kept working at it over
each chunk of that quilt and slowly but surely, my stippling improved.

By the end of the quilt I was by no means a master, but I had stippling down pat. It really just
takes quilting out all those ugly stitches somewhere so you can find the good, even perfect
stitches once you get all the kinks worked out.



How long did you work at (FMQ) or how many projects needed to be worked on before you felt competent in FMQ?

Competent? 1 full sized quilt. But that was only 1 STITCH - stippling. To learn McTavishing,
I had to quilt another full sized quilt.

I quilted maybe 20 quilts before feeling so comfortable with free motion that I was starting to
get bored. Then I started looking into show quilting, and that will really rock your socks off.
It's a whole different level of quilting!

On my first show quilt, I realized that going from bed quilts to show quilts is like learning how
to quilt all over again, only this time on steriods. It's so much fun though because you learn
SO much more with each quilt.

So far I've quilted only 5 show quilts, but by the end of the second one, I was ready to start
the project.

Now I learned show quilting from Karen McTavish, and she has a whole book on it if you're
interested. It's called Quilting for Show and that book is really what taught me how to design
and create show quilts.


 What FMQ questions do you hear most?

Do you use a longarm? Can I do this on a domestic machine? What machine do you use?

There's been a really long and concerted advertising campaign from the longarm
manufacturers to convince everyone that they must have a huge, $30,000 machine in order
to be a professional quilter.

But the fact is, you can free motion on any domestic machine. The machine is a tool, just like
a power drill or a belt sander. What makes one person better at it is more practice, not a
more expensive drill bit.


Your favorite aspect of quilting?

Design. Absolutely positively. I love working with a blank sheet of paper trying to figure out
how to create what is in my head and get it onto paper and then from paper into a quilt.

The longer and more involved I allow my design process to be, the better my quilts are. The
last quilt I created was Shadow Self and I literally sat on that design for 3 months before
moving on to piece it.

Shadow Self


Your favorite quilt you've done?

Hmmmm....I have to admit that I have a rather dysfunctional relationship with my quilts.

I love them when I'm designing them when they're just lines on paper because I'm having so
much fun just playing with the different possibilities.

Then I'm so ready to see the quilt in reality, I get ansy and try rushing the project forward. I'm
frantically wanting to see the finished quilt so I can love it even more!

So the design and piecing usually goes pretty quick. Then comes the trapunto and quilting.
I'm usually feeling lukewarm to the quilt by the time the first filler designs are going down.

By the borders, I hate the day I ever dreamed of the quilt. I dislike everything about it. I think
it sucks and it's the worse thing I've ever done and is full of horrible, very obvious mistakes.

Then I finally finish the quilt and usually soak it and block it at 9 pm when I haven't eaten in
the last 12 hours, I haven't bathed in the last 48, and I'm angrier than a cat caught in a dryer.

And then the next morning I go downstairs and it's like the last 2 weeks of hell haven't
happened and the quilt is FINISHED and I fall in love with her all over again.

So right now, at this moment, my absolute favorite quilt is called The Duchess Reigns. She
is currently in the design phase and I'm hopelessly in love with her!

Ask me again in 3 months and I will probably by hating her just as passionately!


What is your best advice for novice FMQuilters?

As my 3 year old says "Never, NEVER give up!"

Just stick with it. Don't stop for bad looking stitches. Don't stop for "ruined" quilts (sorry, but
it's IMPOSSIBLE to ruin a quilt, even with the worlds worst free motion quilting).

If you're really worried about every single flaw showing, use a cotton batting and it will shrink
after you've washed it, gently hiding all your threads within the shrunk wrinkles of the quilt top.

You can also match your thread. My videos show high contrast of white thread on dark
colors so I have to remind people occasionally that they DO have a choice!


Beginner Filler Designs Quilt


How can we encourage other Gen X/Yers to take up our beloved quilting?!

You know the most comforting sign for us 20-something year old quilters? The biggest group
of people on my You Tube channel is of course 55 years old and older.

But the next biggest group? 18 year olds and younger.

We have a crowd of very interested hobbiest ready to move into the quilting world in the next
few years.

I think the very best thing we can all do is share. Share our project, share our opinions,
share our creativity with everyone - young and old - and let them know that there is this
awesome thing called "quilting" out here just waiting for them to come join in.

I look at all we have now: high speed internet, you tube, blogs, etc, that I didn't have when I
was 7 when I really could have used someone to teach me quilting. Now kids can get online
and watch someone hand piece or hand quilt and they can go try it with just a needle, thread,
and some fabric.

Quilting has always been a free hobby shared amoung friends. I hope it stays that way with
more people sharing their knowledge and skills online with the whole world.


Many thanks to Leah for sharing with us.  Make sure you stop over by her blog and website to learn more!
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Aug 25, 2010

Snowflake Quilt Top Finished

Aug 25, 2010
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The snowflake quilt top is finished!  Or least I decided it was done.  There is supposed to be one more wide border according to the pattern.  The fabric on the right hand side is what came with the kit.  No way man!  First of all, the tones don't match... and the pattern on the fabric is too country for the rest of the fabric palette. 


I debated trying to find another yard and a half of the Marble Dots by Moda being used for the binding (fabric on the left hand side).  But the current width of the quilt will allow me to hang it up in my two-story great room where I have a couple quilts displayed that change with the seasons.  This will make a nice quilt to display in January when Ohio winters are so cold.

I am not sure if having white as your last border is a cardinal quilting sin, but hey, live 'n learn right?

We'll see this puppy again when she's back from my long-arm quilter...
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Aug 23, 2010

Preschooler Sock Puppets

Aug 23, 2010
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By request, my preschooler and I made sock puppets for an upcoming road trip.  I was pumped to make them since it was his own idea and something cool we could do together while the baby napped.  Here's our necessary items:  

1. collection of misfit socks


I used to knit, so spare yarn balls are abundant in the house.  Mostly, the kids like to play in this box.  I call this photo "Yarn Mess".

2.  yarn mess


3.  button collection


Pretty much as soon as we started, I realized his idea of making sock puppets included him getting to press all the fancy buttons on my machine.  My idea was simply for him to try manuevering a yarn needle.  Add a 4-yr. old attention span, and here's what you get....



Mom doing the sewing while he asks "are they done yet?" and slides down the pole in our basement like a fireman.





He loves them now that they're finished (note: he only had patience for 2 of the 4 socks from our misfit collection) and soon I came to understand that "playing sock puppets" means wearing the sock puppet on your hand and wrestling each other to the floor.  Boys!
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Aug 20, 2010

Follower Friday: Meet Mandy of Simply Solids

Aug 20, 2010
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Hooray!  How exciting...  Today Gen X Quilters' Follower Friday is going international!  Please welcome Mandy.  She runs Simply Solids, the largest stock of Kona Cotton Solids in the UK!



Mandy of Peak District, UK


Occupation: SAHM & Online Fabric Store - Simply Solids

Significant Other/Kids/Pets: Husband Lewis who is an artist, three gorgeous kids, Jamie (9), Freya (6) and Audrey (4). Mad yellow Labrador Millie (2), Ginger cat Castor (13) and two rabbits Nizbit & Bun Buns (1)

# Years Quilting: 2

Hand or machine piecing or quilting: Mostly machine but some hand.



How she learned to quilt:

Twenty odd years ago I attended an exhibition in Atlanta on slave quilts, it made a huge impression on me and I vowed that one day I would make my own quilt. I finally got round to starting a quilt when I was pregnant with my first child nine and a half years ago, motherhood took over and I never finished it, that is until two years ago - that is when I got the bug. I enrolled in a block a month workshop and learnt a lot of basic skills, now I will try anything, I belong to several bees and swaps on Flickr and love making stuff for family and friends.



Favorite Completed Project:



Quilting workstation setup:  I have converted our conservatory into my sewing area, it is not the most peaceful of rooms as it is right in the midst of the family, but I can just pop in and out.


 
 
Mandy's Online Shop:  A couple of months ago after struggling to get hold of the Kona Solids I wanted in the UK, I decided to set up my own online fabric store - Simply Solids specialising in Kona Cotton Solids. It is going really well and I am now the largest stockist in the UK! I will get in any colour a customer needs and it is my aim to stock all 221 colours. I also do some designer fabrics, Laura Gunn, Jessica Levitt, Patty Young and some Moda.


To learn more about Mandy and her adventures, check out her blog Made with Love by Mandy and flickr photostream.



And of course, hop on over to Simply Solids for shopping fun!

















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Aug 19, 2010

Check it out! I am Guest Blogging @ Quilting Gallery Today

Aug 19, 2010
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Hi Everyone!  This is so exciting.... I am guest blogging over at the Quilting Gallery today.  Please stop by and give it a read.  (There are some embarrassing pictures of me as a kid you won't want to miss!)

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback for how to make GXQ a great resource! Pin It

Aug 18, 2010

Inspired by Vintage - a 1960s "Quilt"

Aug 18, 2010
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After viewing so many vintage quilts at the Ohio Outdoor Quilt Festival, I decided to showcase the only vintage quilt I have.  Actually, it's technically not even quilted, but it is a great patchwork of scraps made by my paternal grandmother Veronica*.



Our best guess is that this blanket was made sometime in the 1960s.  My Grammy made several of these blankets from leftover material she had from making her own house dresses.  The patchwork is more like a coverlet over what we (my mom and I) think is a wool blanket inside.  This is the WARMest blanket I have ever owned.



Ever since I can remember, this quilt was my favorite "sick blanket".  When home sick from school, this blanket helped me through many a fever as I laid on the couch watching TV and drinking 7Up.  It has been through many washings to get rid of the germs, and now it is starting to show it's age.  Some seams are starting to fray - but that's pretty good for 40-50 years old!



Grammy and me

*Side note:  My Grammy Veronica was the BEST pierogi maker.  We would come to visit from Ohio (she lived in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where my dad grew up) and she would have been up since 4am, making pierogies in the kitchen.  Hundreds of them!  What a feast!

Although I love to cook, it is my brother who has taken to carrying on the enduring task of making pierogies.  Don't lose that recipe!
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Aug 16, 2010

Oilcloth Boxy Cosmetic Bag

Aug 16, 2010
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More dabbling in oilcloth fun!  If you haven't tried it, give it a whirl.  Sometimes it's fun to whip something up in an hour when most quilt projects are such an endeavor.



This cute boxy number was made from a pattern found on Skip to my Lou.  I changed the dimensions to 12" x 10" since I already had the 12" zipper.  It's big enough to hold quite a few toiletries... the one on the tutorial (16" x 14") must be huge!



P.S.  This time I tried to use the zipper foot when sewing.  I'm kind of a zipper novice and I thought I could do better if I used the right foot.  Nope!  Oilcloth grooves MUCH better with the walking foot - even when doing the zipper.  I just sewed right up to the zip, then pretty much took the walking foot off (with the needle down) to zip the zipper past where I was sewing, then started up again.



This bag is partying here:


The Girl Creative





Photobucket


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Aug 14, 2010

Ohio Outdoor Quilt Festival 2010

Aug 14, 2010
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Whew!  It was a HOT one!  But nonetheless a nice breezy day at Bonnie Brae Farm, who put on the Ohio Outdoor Quilt Festival in Wellington, OH.



Quilts, quilts everywhere!!  Over 800 quilts on display or for sale.....they had quilts hanging on barns, quilts in barns, quilts inside horse stalls, quilts on clotheslines strung from trees blowing in the wind.  Lots of color and lots of history.  Thankgoodness I decided not to take the kids with me - it was nice to just leisurely wander the farm with my folks without having to chase after a wobbly 1 yr. old or a preschooler pretending to be a race car driver.


Here are a couple of my favorites:

Turquois and coral


An idea for those 30s fabrics I have...



This was my FAVORITE.  This quilt has embroidered signatures in the center of each block and is dated 1889.  How cool to see the family's names and witness how it has survived all these years.  Seriously made me think I need to do one of these for my own family.


Here is their gorgeous farm.  They were serving lunch outside on the veranda and in the shade of the sideyard to some classical music.  What ambiance!



It was a nice afternoon.  I wish they had some more modern stuff; it was mostly very traditional quilting.  But I guess that's up to us Gen Xers to enter our quilts next year.  The large number of vintage quilts, showing their age and tatters, really made me remember that these quilts I make are not just for me or the person I give it to.  A few may make it over one hundred years from now - and won't that be a nice way to be remembered.

Off to have a cold glass of lemonade!
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Aug 13, 2010

Sew Lefty Sew: Looking for Lefties!

Aug 13, 2010
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Today is International Left Hander's Day and if you are a Lefty, like me, then you see full reason to celebrate.  The holiday is meant to raise awareness of the inconveniences facing left-handers in a right hand dominated world.  Whether it is the camera button being on the wrong side or the serrated edges on knives making it difficult to cut, Lefties overcome all the obstacles.



Now what does this have to do with sewing?  Because of cross-wiring in the brain, Left-Handed people are supposedly more likely to be creative and visual thinkers.  This makes for a perfect sewist and quilter!

Show your Lefty Pride!  Grab a badge if you like and please link up so we can see where the Lefties are.




Badge:


SewLeftySew@GenXQuilters

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Aug 12, 2010

Snowflake Quilt Revisited

Aug 12, 2010
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After all the stress free-motion quilting and trying to get it done in a hurry, I went back to the snowflake quilt this week.  How relaxing to work on a project that doesn't need to be done until January!


Look closely at the next photo.  See if you can find my Oops!  Obviously, I didn't see it until it was sewn in and my seam ripper had a serious job to do.  I've circled the mistake in the last photo of this post (don't cheat!)...



After fixing the oops! block, I assembled the snowflake in the middle, added the white border, and started working on the charm border.




Oops! ANSWER:  Circled in red below.  I almost didn't catch it!


Doesn't this happen to everyone??  :)
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Aug 10, 2010

Gen X Quilters now on flickr

Aug 10, 2010
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So you know I'm new to blogging (I am loving meeting new people I would never have "met" if not for blogging!)... now I'm finding out about all this cool online stuff I never paid much attention to.  I'd like to blame it on having an infant or toddler on my lap while sitting at the pc for the past 4 years.... but that's not entirely true.

Anyway....

I've finally discovered Flickr and I thought it would be perfect for Gen X Quilters.  GXQ now has a new Flickr group as a way to hopefully include those who do not have blogs and/or anyone else who is interested.

I would LOVE to see your work!  Hop on over and share it with us.
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Aug 9, 2010

Playing with Oilcloth Fabrics - Oilcloth Cosmetic Bag

Aug 9, 2010
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Remember my oilcloth purchase last week?  I couldn't wait to play around with it.  Look at this cute little cosmetic bag I whipped up (pattern here)!

The whole thing took about 1.5 hours (including a couple mistakes) and now my makeup is swinging in some new style.

This is a fun new fabric to play with, perfect for summer.  I'd been warned oilcloth is difficult to work with, but my walking foot handled it like a champ.

It's even lined with fabric from my stash!  Sure bet I'll be posting more oilcloth fun soon!


This little bag is partying here...

The Girl Creative





Photobucket
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