Thursday, November 30, 2017

It's All My Fault

Or, at least, I think it *might* be all my fault.

I’ll explain. Over the Thanksgiving weekend Dave and I had the chance for a little diversion from our usual post-turkey-day activities - not that we have any real hard-and-fast post-holiday activities scheduled.

With a huge shout-out of appreciation to our friends Bob and Julia (Julia is a quilter!) who gave us their tickets for Saturday’s football game between hometown Syracuse University and Boston College. They couldn’t attend, and asked us a while back if we might be interested in taking their seats for the game. Bob, Julia, and I are all SU alum’s. We won’t hold it against Dave that he attended another college for his degree - he’s still a hometown Syracuse fan.

We arrived on campus just as the SU marching band started the day with a pep rally on the steps of Hendricks Chapel on the quad.

We quickly discovered that Bob and Julia really have the game day routine down pat! Their tickets included a visit to the pre-game tent event. . .

Wait, what? Stuff the *birds*? My bird-loving tendencies started to take offense, but then I realized the rival mascots are the Eagles from Boston College.

Inside the tent—a hot brunch along with libations to set the mood.

Back out on the quad, and ready to follow the marching band into the Dome. . .

. . . But not before completing a game-day tradition - touching the shoes on the statue of the great Ernie Davis, Syracuse Grad, and first African-American Heismann Trophy recipient (1961) and first-round draft pick. Tragically, Ernie Davis died of leukemia before he ever got to play pro-ball for the Cleveland Browns. The movie, The Express, tells his story, and is worth a look.

Inside the Dome, Dave and I find our seats, and the excitement (and silliness) builds. That bright green sweater, ugh-hh. It’s the Syracuse ORANGE, not the Syracuse *bright green*. I definitely felt a little out of place in a sea of orange-clad fans!

It’s hard to keep from getting caught up in the excitement when the team makes their entrance on the field. . .Thus the jiggly photo.

From our fantastic seats (Bob and Julia know how to ‘do’ football!) Syracuse (in the dark uniforms) is a few yards away from scoring! (Unfortunately, this was a fourth down, and they didn’t make it across the goal line) But we had *great* seats!

After the game we wandered around campus a bit. The Hall of Languages at the entrance to the main campus is a such a classic building, and the scene of many of my classes, back in the day.

Our walking tour included a visit to Manny’s on Marshall Street (M-Street, if you will) to procure the proper football attire for next time. . .

Unfortunately Syracuse lost the game on Saturday (BC 42, SU 14), and I *think* it is all my fault. Had I been wearing ORANGE instead of that neon green sweatshirt, perhaps our boys would have been victorious!!

Or not.

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Starting to Finish

Just about every weekday morning I start out with some sewing to set the pace of my day. If I don’t sew in the morning when I’m not traveling, the day just doesn’t start out right. After about 2 hours at the sewing machine, I take my morning shower and get busy on the computer.

In the evenings I like to relax with tv or an audible book and some hand work.

This little project is pretty much nothin’ but leftovers from my Splendid Sampler quilt project, completed earlier this year. I used the Creative Grids Mini Pineapple tool to turn strips into pineapple blocks. There is more information on this project here.

I debated about the setting for these blocks, then decided to add some pieced sashing and cornerstone units. Separating the pineapple blocks creates a different feeling than sewing the blocks directly to each other. But with only a limited amount of leftovers, and small 6” square blocks, I needed to increase the size of the quilt unless I wanted something doll-sized. So there you have it. Sashing and cornerstones on the scene.

I found the perfect border fabric on one of my last stops in Alaska this summer at a shop in Soldotna. The fabric is covered with moose, in tones of blue and brown to compliment the leftover fabric blocks perfectly. With just a whack of that fabric left, I decided to use it in the backing.

I plan to piece a little bit of bright blue and a lot of the dark brown fabric to each side of the leftover moose print. That’s where I had to leave off yesterday morning. When the backing is ready, the quilt has only to be sandwiched and quilted and it’ll be done. Operative word: ONLY. Ha!

Earlier this week, I finished this quilt top. I started this guy *eons* ago. It’s a Crabapple Hill pattern called Snow Days.

I’s lovely. BUT. I’m not sure what made me think all this detailed backstitch embroidery would be a good idea.

At the time when this pattern was first released, it seemed like a good idea. And it was fun for the first few blocks. But I have to admit, with a lot of starts and stops (who wants to work on a winter quilt in the middle of summer?) it got to be a bit of a drag.

Truly, this is going to be an amazing quilt, but I have to admit that it has lost its sparkle for me.

At 66” square, I think it needs some kind of border. And that stack of fabrics on the stool to the left two photos up are the remnants from the blocks. (I can’t believe that stack of fabrics is still in tact - and even more miraculously that I was able to find them in the far reaches of my stash!)

So now the debate over a border begins. One option is to go right in and sandwich and quilt the dern thing and get ‘er done. But it sure would be a shame to come this far and feel like I short-changed the project just to finish it. What would you do? I'd love your thoughts!

The pattern doesn’t call for another border. But who follows the pattern anyway, right? Says the person who writes patterns for a living.

Before you say it, yes, I have a *thing* for blue and brown together. Can you tell?

Just keeping it real . .

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Flit and Bloom

Yay! It’s my day on the Flit and Bloom Blog hop! Welcome!

A while back Patty Young, a friend and fabric designer for Riley Blake Designs, showed me a little preview of her newest fabric line, Flit and Bloom, and I went nuts!

The colors and designs are bright and cheery. . .

And there are birds, and feathers, and flowers, (did I say birds?) and  . . .


I immediately thought it would make a great pillow with my bonus pillow pattern! Keep scrolling, you’ll have an opportunity to get a copy of that pattern, too!

The pillow project is very easy, you need a few 5” charm squares and a bit of yardage.

Cut some strips, do some flipping and rearranging with those strips . . .

and before you know it, you have strip sets and 9-patches. . .

A little more sewing and the front of the pillow is all done. To make the flaps for the back, I use a strip of fusible web to stabilize the edge of the flap.

Fold the fabric edge over the fusible web and add some topstitching. . .

Then align all the parts and sew everything together envelope style.

Before turning the pillow right side out, snip the corners at an angle to reduce bulk. . .

A little more edge stitching and stitching-in-the-ditch . . . then stuff in a pillow form.

So easy! And so cute with the Flit and Bloom Fabric! Want some Flit and Bloom fabric? Ask for it at you local independent quilt shop. . .

Do you want the pillow pattern? It's a bonus and you can get it right here! Fill in the form below and watch your email for a message that includes a pattern download. 

At the same time, I’ll set you up with another scrappy label pattern as an added bonus and a subscription to my Good Migrations weekly online newsletter. It's fun, filled with quilty (and sometimes not-so-quilty) tips and musings, and it's free!

Sound good?

Gotta run - or should I say Gotta “flit!”

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford
Head Hummingbird
Hummingbird Highway

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Happy Place

I spent last weekend at Quilt Market, the quilt industry trade show in Houston, Texas.

While many families are still displaced because of storm damage from Hurricane Harvey, the areas I visited near the convention center were open for business and recovering well.

My hotel was about a 10-block walk to and from the convention center. Along the way, I noticed that a pigeon must have ignored the ‘stay off the pavement’ signs when this little strip of concrete was curing.

As I got close to the convention center, Avenida Houston—ongoing outdoor festivals and entertainment connecting elements of the downtown area—was in evidence.

To set a creepy Halloween tone, these eerie apparitions swing from the trees.

Each bride-like figure created the perfect atmosphere to set a spooky tone for All Hallow’s Eve.

Colorful streamers decorated several structures in the park and in the street directly in front of the George Brown Convention Center, where Quilt Market was underway.

Just inside the convention center, a look up reveals clouds and birds (!) drifting overhead.

Once inside the convention center. And on the trade show floor, it’s inspiring to see the creative displays at each booth.

Riley Blake had dozens of huge white paper flowers bordering their entire display.

These sponge french fries created a clever display in Christopher Thompson’s (Also Riley Blake) booth.

Oooh, look who’s on the schedule over at the Taunton Press booth! Yep, that would be me. I had a wonderful time chatting with old friends and new ones while signing books and showing off some Versatile Nine Patch projects. . .

Wandering from booth to booth, some vendors stand out. Of course, you know I loved this booth!

I made sure I set time aside to wander into the quilt show. After the close of Quilt Market, the trade show-Quilt Festival-for anyone and everyone, not just members of the quilt industry, begins. The quilt show is a wonderful escape away from the hustle and bustle of the vending booths and displays to quilts submitted from all corners of the world.

This one, Mini V, by Grace Sim of Weston Lakes, Texas, is only about 12-14” square!

It looks like I am touching the quilt, I am not, but I needed something in the picture to show the scale of all those tiny little pieces.

Pinecones by Lenore Crawford of Midland Michigan and it’s red birds in a riot of white and gray tree branches drew me in!

Here’s a close-up of one of the birdies.

Keeping Up Appearances by Jan Reed of Grass Valley, California. is an amazing study of one of my favorite subjects - birds - in this case an ibis preening its feathers. The detail is just fabulous! Batiks, thread, paints, and pencil create this eye-catching quilt!

Continuing along on the bird-inspired quilt theme, Making Amends by Carol Cote of Brights Grove, Ontario, Canada captures one of my favorites - the Atlantic Puffin. On my trip to Alaska this summer, I was able to see circuses of Horned and Tufted Puffins off the Alaskan coast. They are just so fun!

A detail of Making Amends.

These are just a few of the images that captured my soul on this trip to Houston. At the airport, I grabbed a lemonade (Huberts Lemonade) in the airport because I’m not really fond of the fizzy stuff they serve on the plane. Once I was settled into my seat with my travel stitching project in my lap, I noticed the inside of the top had a message for me!

Right-o! I like to think this way about all kinds of quilty endeavors!

Happy Stitching
Joan Ford