Thursday, May 24, 2018

Roses and Rainbows

Portland, Oregon is known as the City of Roses, and man-o-man do I ever know why!

From the moment I stepped off he plane in Portland last week for Quilt Market, the twice-annual quilt industry trade show, it was nearly impossible to go anywhere without seeing beautiful roses in full bloom.

Portland's rose-scented reputation dates all the way back to the late 1800s. Portland's first annual Rose Festival was held in 1907 and continues today.

Although I stopped to smell the flowers along my five-block route between my hotel and the Oregon Convention Center, my Quilt Market home-away-from-home for the next few days, sadly, I wasn't able to experience a whole lot more of this lovely city surrounded by rivers and abundant foot trucks. 

The evening before the market floor opens, Sample Spree is well attended by shop owners hoping to make some early wholesale purchases. The long lines start forming at the entrance a few hours before Sample Spree opens for business.

I didn't have a table at Sample Spree, but did go in and wander about for a short while after my booth was set up. It was sure crowded - as busy as I've ever seen a Sample Spree event! 

No big purchases for me, but I did manage to find a little bird in all that chaos. This needle keeper came home with me for my hoops-and-hand-stitching projects. I know, a bird, right? You know I had to have it!

My booth was pretty basic. My main focus was making Your Nest™ Organizers available for broad distribution to Quilt Shops throughout the country. That stack of Your Nest packages on the table was gone within an hour or two of the show opening. Shoulda brought more!

(After I took this photo, I noticed that my bright yellow rain coat on the back of the chair grabbed all attention from anything else in the booth. I tucked it away after that!)

Each day before the show opened, I wandered around a bit. If I noticed any sort of 'trend' it was COLOR! . . . Big BOLD color. . . All the colors of the rainbow! (Allison Glass booth)

Little bitty flashes of color. . . (Granny's Legacy Booth)

Colorful birds . .

(I didn't grab the booth id on this one, sorry!)

Even color hanging from the sky! Booth: Valori Wells

Whimsical color, too!

Booth: QT Fabrics

Since I was there promoting Your Nest™ Organizers, it was fun to see them sprinkled about the convention center in various booths!

At CutterPillar, for example.

In Deb Tucker's booth, Studio 180 Designs. And in the BlocLoc booth. You know I love these tools!

In the Olfa booth - have you seen the new pink splash rotary cutters, and bright blue and pink cutting mats? Perfect companions for Your Nest Organizers!

And in Sue Pelland's booth. She has exactly seven curvy rulers, and exactly seven places to store them on Your Nest! Talk about perfect match!

And, of course, there were quilts. Unlike Fall Quilt Market's huge Quilt Show adjacent to the exhibit hall, the quilt display in Portland was much smaller, but still very impressive!

The hand work on this one (Marchen (Fairy Tale) by Kayoko Hibino) was stunning. Take a close look at that border! Aside from the beautiful stitching, the border fabric is wrong side out! You can see in the close up shot below, a touch of the same fabric used for the binding has a more distinct polka dot. By placing the border fabric wrong side out, the dot pattern added a subtle texture to the highly textured quilting pattern.

I hope you enjoyed my short and sweet Quilt Market travel diary!

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Another Boat Ride

It's pretty unusual that I'm scheduled to teach on two quilt cruises within a month or two of each other. About six weeks ago, I reported on my quilt cruise with Quilt Retreat at Sea, and now this! This time I headed out with Stitchin' Heaven.

As you enter the pier terminal, the Royal Caribbean marketing gets it right! At the beginning of any new endeavor - a vacation or any other new experience, there's always that excitement for what's to come.

Who will you meet?

What new adventures will you have?

Will it be fun?

Um, Yeah!!

The Players

Once we are all registered, the three teachers for the cruise wait for our turn to board. . .from left to right Darlene Zimmerman, me, next photo, me again but smaller, Nancy Mahoney, and Erin our fearless and fabulous Stitchin' Heaven Coordinator Extraordinaire!

At Sea

Our first day at sea, and work on the projects begins. Each of the quilt instructors heads the activities in three different rooms. Our group - including 97 quilters on this trip - take over the entire conference center on the ship for the entire week.

Choices, choices. Below, Hanna (facing us in the pink) and Aaron (in the foreground with her back to us) are two sisters who started their first quilt project on board. They were a bit tentative at first, but I think, maybe, they might be hooked - do you remember that special feeling that came with your very first seam and your very first quilt block?

In fact, everyone seemed ready to have a great time.

Before too long, blocks start to emerge from quarter inch seams and scrappy fabric selections. For this cruise all three quilts are scrappy. My project was Moody Blue from The Versatile Nine Patch.

In Port

After just one day in the sewing room, we are in port for three days in a row. No quilt classes while in port, but folks can sew if they like.

Cozumel, Mexico was our first stop. For this trip, I had a bit of work to do online, so I opted out of any of the shore excursions, but made a point to take a break to walk around, soak in the sun, and enjoy a little retail therapy! So very relaxing!

Our second port was Grand Cayman, one of the three islands that make up the Cayman Islands. Look at that blue water! The ships are not quite in port- for Grand Cayman, they tender a bit off-shore to preserve the natural sea habitats along the shoreline, and the cruise guests shuttle to the island by smaller boat.

I'm a big fan of the Caymans, known for many things, including the natural iguana population, Cayman parrots, caymanite (a semi-precious gemstone that features layers of various shades of brown), stingrays, favorable banking regulations for the rich and famous, and the location of Joan and Dave Ford's honeymoon vacation a few years (a-hem) back!.

Our third port was Falmouth, Jamaica. Before heading ashore for some more shopping therapy (there were a couple of bottles of rum cream with my name on them!), I witnessed a lifeboat drill.

Several alarms sounded on the ship, after which the crew lowered a handful of the lifeboats and floated around for a little bit. I'm sure it's much more stressful in a for-real emergency, but it kinda looked like fun!

And then I proceeded on to the island of Jamaica. Our beautiful ship, Liberty of the Seas seemingly watches over the activity in port.

Back on board, dinner awaited us daily, served in the dining room by our two entertaining servers, Nishank, our head waiter from India, and Jarbson, our assistant waiter from Brazil, who kept the wine flowing and who entertained us with some outrageous hats that suited his fun personality. You can see many of the quilters, all having a wonderful time at dinner in the background.

With just a few more days to sew, progress started to heat up. Rows, then quilt centers, then quilt tops came together, even as the tables and sewing machines started to get packed away.

In the end, the adventure was a huge success, but it was time to say good-bye to all our new friends, as well as our cabin-towel-critters. BUT the good-byes aren't the end. . .

A big fat welcome to those from the cruise joining this edition of Good Migrations. So nice to have you here!

And, . . . with just a few days left before the Pudgie Parrot banner has to be ready for Quilt Market, I'm happy to report that it's in pretty good shape.

I managed to steal away a few minutes here and there on board the ship to do some of the hand quilting.

Do you think it'll get done in time? (Oh, yeah!)

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, April 26, 2018

A New Banner

I'm exhibiting to the quilt industry trade show next month, and about a week ago, I started thinking about my little half booth display. 

My main focus while at the show will be to introduce Your Nest™ Organizers to local quilt shops in a very big way. (Send your local shop owner to see me!)

This might be a little confusing, because I know you know me as the owner of Hummingbird Highway, but when Your Nest™ Organizers came along, I was advised to set up a new, separate company - specifically Pudgie Parrot LLC.

Pudgie Parrot (the name sorta inspired by my blue-fronted amazon parrot who likes eating cookies and ice cream from time to time) has its own website, and its own logo - a really adorable one designed by my good friend and amazing website guru Holly Knott

For my display, I decided to make a quilted banner. I already have a banner for Hummingbird Highway, so it only made sense to create one for Pudgie. And it's going to be all applique. 

First I need to improvise a pattern. I took a copy of the logo that prints out about 4x8" and blew it up four times, reversed it, then printed it onto about 10 pieces of paper.

With a small investment in tape, I joined all the pieces of paper together, then pinned the pattern to the right side of a single piece of fabric--about 2/3 yard of big white-on-white polky dots.

Then I grabbed a light box and a pencil and traced all the shapes. 

If you've been following me for any amount of time, then you know I'm a big fan of a hand applique technique known as back-basting applique or template-free applique. To do this, you trace the design on the back of your base fabric in reverse.

Then pin-baste oversized shapes of colorful fabric on the right side of the piece, starting with bottom layers first. Then baste with a super-close running stitch from the back of the work right on the drawn lines. This makes for REALLY accurate applique shapes!

For the basting I don't have knots at the beginning or end of the thread, and I use a larger needle (size 7 sharps) and quilting thread (I prefer YLI Quilting thread) in a weird color so I can see the threads (see the yellow stitching (below) around the shapes?) the green stitches around the 'bib' area are securing the applique shape. You can see the yellow basting thread around the yellow beak and the green belly particularly at the very bottom of the photo.

After I baste around the shape, I like to let the project 'rest' for a few hours, usually until my next sewing session the next evening in front of the TV. Or in the summer on the front porch. The photo below is the same step as the one above, but from the right side. Notice that the fabric shapes have been trimmed about 1/8" away from the basting.

Once the basting threads have rested, the thicker thread leaves a line of holes in the cloth - both the background cloth and the applique shape. Working from the front with a smaller needle (size 10 sharp) and fine thread (I prefer 60 wt cotton) that matches the applique shape color, I then remove the basting stitches a little at a time (about 1/2" ahead of where I'm sewing), then turn the applique edge under along that line of holes.

I secure the folded edge of the applique shape to the background with itty bitty applique stitches. The fabric tends to turn under nicely following the line of holes where the basting thread was, like ripping a check out of your checkbook at the perforation line.

Some areas are a little more challenging than others. All those little feather ruffles set into the wing were a bit of a job. The seam fabric needed to be crunched under all those tiny points and secured with not much room to spare!

This is where I am right now (below). The green part of the head, the branch and several of the letters are based, rested, and ready to turn under and secure. Once sewn, the branch will get some highlighted patches of lighter brown, and some bird toes, plus we've still got a few missing letters. . .

What's Pudgie Art? I didn't baste all the letters onto the fabric because there isn't enough space in between the letters to accommodate the seam allowances from neighboring letters. So I basted alternating letters, then secured those shapes, then basted the remaining letters. I ran out of gas on the parrot part. . .

Obviously, I'm not quite done yet with the applique. Once I do get that done I have to make the how-will-I-quilt-this decision. Hand? Machine? Some combination?

More to come!

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Mmm, Chocolate!

Dave and I had a little get-together with friends last evening. Pizza, beer, and a little something sweet. I brought the little something sweet. And as long as I was making this yummy, quick-to-make treat, I thought I'd share the recipe. It's called Chocolate Covered Cherries Cake.

I got this recipe years ago from the local quilt shop owner. I'm usually not a fan of using cake mixes, but sometimes, a cake mix is just the ticket for a fast, easy, no-frills, tasty dessert!

This recipe calls for only four ingredients for the cake: devils food cake mix, cherry pie filling, almond flavoring, and a couple eggs.

Mix everything up  . . .

 . . . and place it in the pan. Ready for the oven . . .

In the oven (350˚) for 30-35minutes.

Out it comes!

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. A few more ingredients: butter, sugar, milk, and chocolate chips.

Mix and boil it all together in a saucepan . . .

Then pour the warm glaze over the warm cake.

As everything cools, the glaze firms up, but the cake stays really moist and cherry- chocolatey.

Did I mention that the house smells amazing while everything is baking?

I confess. I cheated. Fortunately, my friends 'get me,' I *had* to cut a slice yesterday before the party, so I could take a picture - for you! Business first, right?, then fun!

You might be asking, what did I do with that slice of cake - put it back in the pan for the party? Silly question. Somebody had to sample it to make sure it was okay to eat, right?

(It was okay! *wink!*)

Want the recipe? CLICK HERE . . . This would be great for the guild break table! Click on the button to nab the instructions!


Happy Stitching