Thursday, October 19, 2017

A-a-a-all Aboard!

Over the weekend, I was guest speaker at the Hope Lutheran Fall Quilt Show in Arcade, New York. My host was Sandy Pirdy and her fabulous crew at Creekside Fabrics, Quilts and Yarn.

Sandy’s must-visit shop is situated exactly adjacent to Clear Creek.

Every time I visit, one step inside the door, and I feel like I am home. The staff is just the best - friendly and helpful - especially when there is glow-in-the-dark fabric to examine (little inside joke there, sorry - couldn’t resist!)

On Friday, I was invited to do some demonstrations at the shop. Here, folks are gathered around to see how I made the pieced fabric buttons for the Button Collection Pillow . . .

The pillow pattern is from ScrapTherapy, The Versatile Nine Patch, using the Mini Scrap Grid interfacing and Quiltsmart Zig Zapps Circles.

Later, we headed over to the Hope Lutheran Church, a few blocks away. Quilts representing a pattern series entitled Women of The Bible were hung in the church sanctuary.

And lots of quilts in the main gathering/lobby area. This one made by Nancy Bush and its bird and bird house theme naturally grabbed my attention!

And of course, a quilter’s gotta eat. Fabulous chicken and biscuit lunch prepared and served by the church members throughout the weekend. Super yum!

After my talk, the quilts were draped over the alter rail in the church sanctuary for closer inspection.

And a little Arcade history: if you visit Arcade you simply *must* visit the Arcade and Attica Railroad! And be prepared to travel back in time.

All you have to do is step foot inside the station and you feel as if you’ve entered another era. The model train above sets the stage appropriately.

Grab some popcorn!  . . .

 . . .  and climb aboard one of several 1920s coaches attached to a vintage locomotive steam engine.

The train runs regularly from June to October with a variety of special-themed events during all four seasons. The train makes two hour trips from Arcade to Curriers.

A sneak peek inside one of the coaches tells me that these folks are in for a fun ride!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take the trip with these fine folks, so I simply must plan to return to Arcade soon!

Many, many thanks to all those who made my trip to Arcade memorable!

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Loud and Clear

A few weeks ago, while I was on vacation, this blog featured a little bundle with the goodies to make itty-bitty log cabin ornaments.

I’ve been working on mine diligently between a couple other items on the sewing table these last few weeks. They are coming along, but I still have quite a few more to make. . .

Last week, after I did an inventory of the fabric that was leftover from the first round of  orders and shipments, I discovered that I had three kits left - they were sold within the first hour or so after I mentioned it the newsletter.

I hear you Loud and Clear

Since then I’ve had a couple of requests for the pattern by itself and more bundles. This is an easy fix. They are now both available in the shopping cart. The bundle no longer includes the fabric — that’s gone. But there is no reason you can’t substitute with a quick run to the fabric shop for some holiday prints (you gotta love an excuse to make a run to the quilt shop! - AKA F.A.R.T. - Fabric Acquisition Road Trip) Or sub-in something from your stash or scrap bins for these little cuties.

So here we go. One last time (I promise!)

The bundles are available here. Includes pattern, Mini Clover Wonder Clips, 12 3-1/2” fusible foam batting squares, and the Mini Log Cabin Trimmer.

The patterns are now available on their own here. Note that the pattern more or less requires the Mini BlocLock Log Cabin Trim Tool.

Since I really like tools that can be used for more than one purpose. How about using that little Mini Log Cabin tool to make a mock flange? Logs start out as 7/8” strips, then get sewn and trimmed into the little ornaments. Why not start with long strips that are 7/8” wide then sew them to your quilt where you want a flange - in between borders for example. Trim then add the binding or next border.

Skip the long flange accent strip that is folded then sewn in. Those dern flanges always get a mind of their own when the quilt gets washed anyway. If the “flange” is sewn in like a border, it’ll behave! Trimming with the groove in the ruler keeps the strip even - no wibble-wobbling all over the place. Plus, your long arm quilter will kiss your feet!

Keep the questions and comments coming. I’m here for you! *Wink!*

Happy Stitching!
Joan Ford

Thursday, October 5, 2017

It's a Numbers Game

A couple evenings ago, I got together with my quilty friends. We  - two or three of us - try to get together about once a month for a pot luck dinner, some hand-sewing, and good gab.

On this particular evening, we each worked on very different projects. One of the three of us at this particular gathering was binding a quilt that has been in the to-finish pile for a very long time. Quite an accomplishment,right?

Then she mentioned something about the eight corners of the quilt’s binding . . . wait, 8?

Then I got to thinking about the numbers games I play with myself to keep motivated, especially as a big project is getting complete.

The countdown

As I complete a quilt top, when the end of the project is in sight, I start to count down the number of seams to sew. For example. Once the quilt center is done, if the quilt has two borders, sewn traditionally, then there are eight seams left - side inner border - two of those, add two more for the top and bottom inner border, two side outer borders, and the two borders for the top and bottom outer borders. Eight.

That same quilt, with mitered borders would add four more seams to sew to get to the finish line once the quilt center is done: One to connect each of the inner and outer borders (4), one to connect the center to the all four borders (4), then the miters, one at each corner (4). Twelve total.

Every seam sewn, means one less seam to the finish line.

The Five Sides of a Quilt

Five? Wait. . .what? Well, when you sew a BINDING on a quilt that has four sides, you start in the middle of one side, then add the binding to three more sides, then sew the binding to remainder of the first side (or in my weird mind) the fifth side of the quilt.

A Baker’s Dozen

I do a similar countdown when I’m quilting, either by hand or by machine. I usually quilt block by block. Especially when there are lots of blocks in a quilt, I start counting down when I get maybe about half way through the blocks.

I’m working on the quilting on a pretty large quilt right now. When I finish this next block, I’ll have 12 blocks to go. But rather than say that unlucky number 13, I like to think I have a bakers dozen left to the finish line. Superstitious? Me? Nah (well, maybe a little.)

Eight Binding Corners

Back to the eight-cornered binding thing. This took me a minute or two to understand. . .

As you sew the binding to the quilt front, each corner is mitered. That’s four corners.

Then as you sew the binding to the back of the quilt - either by hand or machine, there are the other four corners to miter and attach for a total of eight.

Like any goal - reaching a finish line, hiking a mountain or trail, or reaching an ideal weight or exercise goal. Those last few numbers can make all the difference in keeping it fun and keeping it real.

What numbers games to you play to keep your head in the quilty game?

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Time to Relax

Anyone who has followed me for a while will know that I have been traveling a lot for quilty business for the last few years. I just love teaching quilting classes and meeting shop folks and guild members from across the country. However, there's nothing like a little personal getaway time.

Dave and I try to make some vacation plans around our anniversary - which is this coming weekend. This year, we stuffed a couple of suitcases into the car and headed east - Down East to be exact. Keep scrolling for a quick photo journal of our travels.

Two weeks ago today, Dave and I set out for Gloucester, Massachusetts for a little bit of R&R.

I guess you can say that Dave and I really like vacations where we're learning stuff. So we got right down to it with a visit to Beauport, also known as the Sleeper-McCann house just down the road from our B&B.

I guess you can say that Henry Davis Sleeper, a well-known interior design was quite a collector! Beauport was his summer home, filled with books, furniture, and colored glass to name a few items - tons of interesting stuff. And cubbies everywhere. This one in a stairwell, was filled with bird identification books!

After lunch, we headed out to the break water which protects Gloucester harbor . . .

And walked, and walked, and walked. Here's our return view.

Dave spent several summer vacations here with his family when he was growing up. He says, you can’t visit Gloucester without visiting Good Harbor Beach at low tide to search for sea critters in the tide pools. Can you find the crab trying to avoid becoming a seagull lunch?

Speaking of lunch, you know that feeling when lunch is ready, but you just can’t get the package open. So close, and yet so far. (By the way, the gull did manage to break the clam shell to unlock the feast)

There is a small island that is only connected to the beach at low tide. Of course, we had to explore!

We wrapped up our visit to Gloucester, and it was time to head north!

Our ultimate destination was Bar Harbor, Maine but we learned about a do-not-miss eatery in Wiscasset. Our sources said that Red's Eats lobster rolls were not to be missed (if you’re a lobster roll kinda person)

We waited in line an hour - had fun chatting with the other tourists. This better be good!

 . . . Oh, yeah . . .

Next stop: Mt Desert Island—Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. On our first day, we drove around the island to get a feel of things. The Bass Harbor Head Light is a Maine coastal classic!

Mr. Rockefeller’s bridges (John D. Rockefeller, Jr. is credited with building then donating the carriage paths that cover much of the park area) are a must-see when visiting the park.

The park is home to many, many species of flora and fauna, including some 300+ different types of lichens.

And, of course, the park rangers (this is Ranger Anne) offer programs filled with gobs and gobs of information about the park’s history.

And the food . . . you gotta eat on vacation! Might as well do it up. Our bed and breakfast, The Atlantean Cottage, served up hearty gourmet breakfasts daily. (So good!!)

When in Maine  . . . you gotta have lobster! (My apologies to my vegetarian followers - the potato and cole slaw were yummy!)

And the rocky shore . . .

Overlooking Bar Harbor from Cadillac Mountain.

Looking south, also from Cadillac Mountain

We did our share of walking, hiking, shopping, eating memorable food, bird watching, star-gazing, and hawk migration counting, and I even did a little stitching at the end of each activity-filled day. Summer turned into Autumn while we were in Maine.

Like anything, vacations come to a close. Dave and I have some great memories that carry on as we return to our daily activities.

Sunset over Sand Beach.

I am fully recharged and ready to stitch! I hope you enjoyed the photos. . . back to stitchy stuff next week!

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Getting Ahead of Myself

What month is this? September?? I thought so, I was just checking because I usually start thinking about my holiday cards and the hand-made ornament insert right around December 1. Well . . . that’s actually not quite true - I start *thinking* about it in October, but usually don’t start *doing* anything about it until December.

For some strange reason, this year is different. Don’t ask me why, but I’m not going to over analyze things. I’m just going to roll with it.

I started this several years ago. Every year, I put a hand-made ornament in my holiday cards. And sometimes I struggle with an idea for the ornament. Usually the idea pops into my head right around Thanksgiving and I have less than a month to pull it all together.

This year, for some reason the idea came early. And because it came early, I’m actually enjoying the process.

Spoiler alert: If you are on my holiday card list and want to be surprised, then read no further. But if you enjoy using up some scrap fabrics, and you don’t mind piecing and sewing in some pretty darn small spaces, then read on. AND there’s a bonus bundle at the end!

I’ll start with the finish point. Here’s the result. A scrappy-mini-log-cabin-block-ornament that I’m calling Yule Logs.

First the supplies. This project features the BlocLoc Log Cabin Trim Tool. As you may already know, I’m pretty fond of the BlocLoc half-square triangle trimming rulers, so I wasn’t surprised when I tried, and really liked their log cabin tools. My ornament project uses the itty-bittiest size.

Also needed: some fusible batting squares, some scrap fabrics (actually these bright solids are cut from a fat quarter find in my fabric stash, thanks to some Tidy Fabric Club prep that is underway), a focus print for the backing and binding (I’m using this adorable mini print from the Woodland Wonder collection from Quilting Treasures (more on that below). And some Clover Wonder Clips - the Mini Wonder Clips are ideal for this tiny project.

I started with a fussy-cut 1” square from the Woodland Wonder focus print. Since I want to have my ornament hang from a corner, I cut my center as well as my backing from the focus print on the bias. Then I added the first two strips, pressed the seams outward, locked in to the seam bulk with the BlocLoc groove on the bottom of the ruler, and trimmed the three raw edges using the tool.

Then added two more scrap strips, pressed, and trimmed to complete the round.

Lather, rinse, repeat. (Just kidding - I mean keep adding, pressing and trimming two opposite sides at a time to build the itty bitty log cabin.)

The fourth round is the last one.

In case I haven’t made myself perfectly clear - these are really, REALLY small pieces. The strips are cut 7/8” wide, then trimmed *down* after sewing. The logs finish to 1/4” wide - I 100% get that this is a little bit (a lot?) crazy, but the result is SO cool, and SO much easier than it could be by using the trim tool.

With four rounds sewn, my blocks are measuring just a hair over the ’should be’ measurement of 3” square. I could give them an added trim, but I’m good with that measurement since I’m not sewing them to each other. Each block will stand alone as it’s own. I think I may be incorporating a little bit of stretch into the fabric as I press. I’ll have to watch this as I make more. But for now, I’m rolling with it.

Next I’m going to sandwich a double sided fusible foam batting square that has been trimmed to match the block size between the block and centered on the oversized backing square. Fuse.

Then I work one side at a time: fold the backing edge so the raw edge meets the batting edge, then fold again so the first fold is on top of the ornament, and the second fold is snug against the batting. And clip with the Mini Wonder Clips. You could use pins, but because everything is so small, I think the mini clips work best.  

Miter at the corner by folding once diagonally at the corner . . .

Then making the first fold to begin the binding for the adjacent ornament side.

Clip, clip, clip to secure. . .

 . . . until you get all the way around.

Then secure the folded binding edge with a button-hole, zigzag, or satin stitch. A stiletto will help to keep the layers secure near the needle as you remove clips and sew the binding edge.

Add round or two of stitch-in-the-ditch quilting as desired. This step could be done before the binding steps as well.

The Yule Logs Bonus Bundle

Now, here’s the fun part, as promised. I’ve assembled a bundle of essential Yule Logs Ornament tools, so, if you choose, you can surprise your holiday list with a little something (very little!) hand made this year.

What’s included in the Yule Logs Special Bundle:

 - 1/4” & 3/8” BlocLoc Log Cabin Trimmers
 - One Package Mini Wonder Clips (20 in the package)
 - Twelve 3-1/2” square fusible batting squares (In-R-Form by Bosal)
 - Yule Logs Ornament Pattern
 - BONUS fat quarter of Woodland Wonder print

For a special bundle price of $29.95, saving 30% off the combined full price of $39.14. This special bundle is only available through Tuesday, September 26, 2017. The offer is good only while supplies last.

Are you in? Click the green button below to proceed.

I can’t even believe I’m this far ahead of the game for my holiday cards this year. The rest of the my holiday list can wait. I’ve got all of the fall season to consider my holiday plans--while I sew little itty-bitty log cabin ornaments!

How about you?

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford