Monday, December 29, 2014

More BOMs - Not Quite So Current

This next series of BOMs Current aren't quite as current as they should be, however, I foresee some completion this coming year.

First up is an internet mystery quilt by Linda Hahn. This was the first mystery quilt I have ever done. I saw it advertised in an AQS newsletter back in the beginning of 2013 so I figured I'd give it a try. I really like the idea of mystery quilts, but I haven't quite gotten used to not having control over the elements of the design. How do you know which fabrics to chose if you don't know where they are going to be used? So this time I went with the designer's fabric choices - besides, what's not to love about bright pink, blue, turquoise, lime green and purple batiks?

I still have a ton of blocks to make. This is the kind of project that I could easily get bored with  - making 20 of the same block - so I usually only do a few blocks at a time. This project will get moved up on the action list once my EH Modern Sampler is done and will hopefully be done in 2015 (don't hold me to it though).

Next up is a JayBird Quilts BOM that was offered through a lot of shops last year. I ended up doing it through Fons and Porter, though now I don't remember why F&P and not another shop. Toes in the Sand appealed to me for several reasons: 
1. I love the PB&J fabric that Julie Herman used for her sample and wanted to use that same fabric line (in fact I just found a FQ of each fabric in the line on Etsy and ordered the whole bundle for another quilt).
2. I like the idea of blocks being something other than 4-sided. Each triangular block is made up of several different shapes, but relies heavily on triangles.
3. She used a unique ruler that she designed - the Hex N More Ruler - to make the blocks. She has gone on to design other quilts with this ruler. In fact I'm teaching one next year at Mea Bernina called Park Bench.
4. I met Julie at the Sisters Oregon Quilters' Affair workshops in 2013 and I really liked her and her design philosophy. Check out all her cool stuff here.
I'm about half done with Toes in the Sand and will keep it in my active rotation in 2015, so I should have it done by the end of the year.

The third in this series of BOMs is one we offered at Mea Bernina last year. It was called a BuckABlock and featured half square triangles using Thangles.  Half the blocks are done in a turquoise small flower print and half in a red-violent larger flower print. I think I'm going to set the blocks on point with setting squares in between. 
Toward that end I bought Garden Couture by Embroidery Design Studio thinking I would applique and embroider flowers in the setting squares using the fabrics from the pieced blocks.  This project is also in my active rotation so I am aiming for completion in 2015.

So, I think I am almost at the end of BOMs "present". Only a couple more for next time. Whew, there are a lot of them! I'd better stop blogging and start sewing!


Friday, December 26, 2014

BOMs Present - Part 2: Keeping Current and Almost Current

Next on the BOM list . . .

So, I guess I'll start with my guild's BOM - it's an art deco version of flowers designed by Reeze Hanson of Morning Glory Designs. I actually spent last week catching up and now have 6 blocks done and I'm actually current through December! WOoHOo! I have no idea what the finished quilt will look like, but I'm liking the blocks so far. I'm using mostly a tone on tone fabric I really enjoy called Quilters Shadow by Stof, a Danish company. Here is the December Block, Tiger Lily.

My next BOM project is almost finished - pretty soon I'll be able to move it to the "past" list. Last year Mea Bernina hosted a modern mini quilt of the month club based on Elizabeth Hartman's Modern Patchwork book. I thought instead of making 12 mini quilt wall hangings I would try to make them using the same fabrics so that I could put them together in one large quilt.

I chose a fabric from the Habitat collection by Michele D'Amore with various soft colored dots as my focus fabric and then pulled other fabrics in to complement it. This is one of my favorite ways to select fabric! 

I've gotten all 12 blocks done and am now trying to figure out how to put them together.  I've got a post out on FB asking my sewing sisters whether to float or frame the blocks. the jury is still out, so if you have an opinion, I would love to hear it.  Framed in brown like the left side in the pic or floating on taupe like the right side?

Another BOM that I am almost current on is Fiesta Mexico by Karen Kay Buckley, hosted by Stitchin' Heaven, a quilt shop in Texas who sends the fabrics each month.  The quilt is gorgeous - the colors are rich and vibrant and the shapes are really sensuous. Unfortunately the instructions could use some explanation on how some of the blocks go together. I even called the shop when the pattern arrived and asked them if I was missing a part of the instructions LOL!.  I'm muddling through but I wouldn't be if I were new to applique. I've got the first 6 blocks done, except for the first block (top left of the quilt in the pic) - which includes some pieced triangles I'm not sure how to add.  

Til next time, Keeping curious and BOMing!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

When I was a kid, my favorite part of Christmas Day was after opening presents and before a laid back dinner of scrumptious leftovers from our large family meal on Christmas Eve.

My Dad had a fantastic Danish black leather chair in our living room. It sat against the wall and next to where Mom put up the silver Christmas tree (and later a real one and then later an artificial green one). I would bring all my presents and make myself a little cave behind my Dad's chair and just look at and play with all my gifts, appreciating each one and it's giver.

Today, in honor of that childhood tradition, I am going to go downstairs and make a little cave of my toys and gifts bought by me and for me this last year (machines and fabric) and I'm going to look at them, play with them, and appreciate how blessed I am.

Call me when its time to heat up the leftovers!

With Much Love for my Friends, Family and Sewing Sisters this holiday season and always,

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

BOMs Present Part 1 - Embroidery

Wow, do I ever have a lot of BOMs that I'm working on! A couple of posts ago, I showed a picture of my spreadsheet that I use to keep track of my progress. Here it is again. I'm not sure if you can read it, but on this sheet I am tracking 11 different BOMs. Some of them have only 1 block completed (not even a whole month's worth), some are pretty close to being done. I wonder if I have some BOM in tubs that haven't made the list. I guess I had better look!

I'm working on several embroidery BOMs and the first one I started (in 2013) was Hoop Sisters' Feathered Star. I only have part of the last block to finish and then 48 blocks to do for the border. Each block takes about 50 minutes . . . so I still have a good deal of work ahead. This BOM was one offered at Mea Bernina last year and was the first time I really put my BR 830 Embroidery machine to use. It was a great way to get comfortable with my machine. Now I'm hooked. It's a good thing I have another machine - I start my embroidery machine and then turn to my BR 440 and work on a pieced or applique quilt.

Hoop Sisters comes out with a new Embroider-a-Block each year. The design for 2014 was Jacobean Journey. Of course, I also had to start this one - the colors are so rich and vibrant. I haven't gotten far at all - maybe only 2 blocks out of probably 100. I've worked on the blocks at Mea to help make the shop sample.  The pattern has several optional ways to combine the blocks, so I might put together a smaller version or a table runner.  We've received 2015's Embroider-a-Block at Mea and it is also stunning (like I said they are hard to resist). Sown Seeds is bright and fun, totally different from Jacobean Journey but just as beautiful.  This one will go on my future list!

The last Embroidery BOM on my list is actually a Row of the Month. It is called Tree of Life by AnitaGoodesign. Mea Bernina offered it as a class meeting for 2 days a month over 3 months. I couldn't attend all the classes, but I did get 2 and 1/2 rows done. It is a gorgeous design, and the best part are the dimensional leaves that are added when the quilt is done.  The three of us in class each used a different background. One was white, one was black, and I used a light blue background. I'm planning on putting it on the wall in my guest room which is bright and happy with colorful accents.

So, I have 3 current Embroidery quilt designs in progress. I intend to finish Feathered Star first before I move on to the others.  I'm sure other gorgeous embroidery BOM quilts will come along and move from my future list to my present list!

Happy Embroidering!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

BOMs Past

Continuing with the theme of BOMs, I thought I would reminisce about the BOMs I have completed. This will be by far the smallest category (past, present and future being the categories). I think there are only 2, no wait 3, actually I found 4 finished BOM quilts, and they have all played a huge role in my quilting experience and education.

The first BOM I did was one of the first quilts I ever made. I started it when I was stationed in Germany in the Army in the late 1980s. I took a quilting class at Rhine Main Air Base to make a sampler quilt. We had the book and we worked through a block a month. It is a very traditional quilt and I used traditional fabrics - which was really all that I could get in Germany in the 80s.  It took about 10 years but I finally finished it.  It was meant for our guest room but my current guest room has bright colors so this quilt hangs on a quilt rack in my hallway.

BOM #2 was an internet BOM that the designer was testing before publishing a book - Moondance by Applewood Farm.  I did this quilt mostly in batiks with a few tone on tones thrown in. This was before I got an obsession about not mixing batiks and cotton prints together (I'm trying to get over that).  Kris Barlow did some outstanding quilting on it, using variegated thread that brings out all the colors.

Quilt #3 was a BOM hosted by Mea Bernina before I started working there. It is an adorable tea pot quilt designed by Linda Topp Durbin (sorry, I can't find any links to this pattern. If anyone wants to borrow it I still have mine). The idea was to use the Bernina Stitch Regulator to sew down the applique edges. I didn't have a BSR at the time, so I fused the applique pieces and used a blind hem stitch to tack the edges down. Denise Mariano did a spot-on job with the quilting, framing each pot nicely.

BOM quilt #4 was Stitcher's Garden - a learning BOM that I teach at Mea Bernina. This quilt pattern features a different technique every month - pin tucking, twin needle, couching, bobbin play, decorative stitching, and circular embroidery. It was so much fun to make as well as to teach. I'm in my forth iteration of teaching it and still love it. I keep thinking about ways to vary it and have done a few blocks in black and white with just a spot of color. Thanks go to Kelly Cline for her amazing quilting on this one. 

Next time I'll catch up on all my current BOM projects - there's a lot of them!
Happy BOMing!

P.S. Isn't it interesting how we can use BOM as a noun, verb and adjective! Grammar geeks - are there any other usages?

Monday, December 15, 2014

My name is Denise and I'm a BOM Addict

Over the last several years I've been having a love affair with (addiction to?) Block of the Month projects. The idea is so inviting - making one block a month. It's so doable, only one block! No matter how busy I get I can surely find time to make one block, right?

Wrong, because I can't say no to BOMs. One block turns into 10 or more blocks. I finally had to make a spreadsheet to keep track of all the BOMs I'm working on.  So I thought I might take a few posts to explore why BOMs are so attractive and look at some of my BOM quilts past, present and future.

The attraction of BOMs is in the name - only a block a month. It provides the structure and organization that I seem to need. It provides a deadline of sorts. Some BOMs also offer a sense of mystery and excitement. The first one I did was an internet BOM and I just couldn't wait til the next installment to see what the block looked like.

My preference is to join BOM projects that just include the pattern. I will occasionally buy a kit but I really like to chose my own fabric. Many BOMs offered currently by on-line shops require the quilter to buy the whole kit including fabric and will sometimes offer a couple different color ways. I would probably be involved with a lot more BOM quilts if I could just get the pattern. Pattern plus fabric BOMs are a bit pricey, ranging from $25 to $50 a month.  I haven't yet done a BOM project where you go to the shop and if you've finished last month's block you get the pattern for this month free. This format feels almost too restrictive. Oh No! I don't have my block done yet! Feeling judged!

I really like BOM projects where the participants meet and talk about their experience and share their blocks. Our guild (Kaw Valley Quilters' Guild) does it that way. The block is published in the monthly newsletter and then we show our blocks at show and tell. It is so cool to see how people interpret the blocks differently. During the last BOM (first half of 2014), designed by Barbara Brackman, the quilts were done in black and white, wools, and traditional civil war prints. This is Linda Frost's quilt done in lovely soft Japanese taupe fabrics. 

Another plus about BOMs is that sometimes the leader of the group provides tips and techniques, lessons learned, and guidance for those of us making the blocks. We did that at our shop for Elizabeth Hartman's modern minis from her book Modern Patchwork.

So, the pros of joining BOM projects are the sense of community, guidance, structure, educational opportunities, motivation, and a sense of anticipation. The cons? Well, I can see very few cons unless like me you join so many that you can't keep up. One con might be cost and fabric choice if fabric is included.

BOMs can be found in so many places - your local guild, on-line quilt shops, local quilt shops, quilters' blogs and on-line groups. 

Next time - a look at BOMs past. 
Are you in love with BOMs? Feel free to comment below!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Invasion of UFOs

Those of you who know me well know that I am a starter, not necessarily a finisher. Let the record show that I do occasionally finish quilts and other projects. But I truly do start WAAAAYYYY more than I finish.  I almost never meet a quilt that doesn't call my name - "Denise - you want to make me! Over here - look at me!" 

As a result, I tend to collect UFOs.

What is a UFO? It's a WIP. WIP? Un-Finished Object. Work In Progress.

In my book that means I have actually started cutting the fabric. Perhaps even sewed a few seams. But it also means I have collected all the fabric for a project and have it all stored together (pattern and fabric) in a Sterlite brand plastic storage box from Target (I should have bought stock in Sterlite). WIP also means that I have ruminated on a potential project, maybe collecting some inspiring pictures and fabric swatches. Although there is a clear line between a few inspiring pictures and a WIP, I don't really have the words to describe it, but I know it.

Earlier this year, when my BFF Bobbie was visiting, we inventoried and cataloged my UFOs. In my defense, I did decide to release 3 BOM kits that are just not my style anymore (coming to a garage sale near you).  I also decided to liberated a few projects - filing the patterns and adding the fabric to my stash.

Surely by this time, I had reduced my stack of UFOs quite a bit! Alas, no. When we finished opening all the Sterlite tubs, we had counted and cataloged (in an excel spread sheet) 52 UFOs. By the time I had dug into a few bags and the odd container, we had added an additional 10 projects. To top it off, I've added about 10 more projects since then. 

I did a little prioritization and pulled 8 projects out to finish first.  Just think, if I finish an average of 7 a year it will only take me 10 more years to finish all my UFOs. That's only if I don't start any new ones. As if that's ever gonna happen!

And therein lies the problem - the most exciting part of the whole quilt making process for me is the ruminating, imagining, designing, fabric-buying, Sterlite-filling, direction-reading, cutting and sewing.

I sometimes feel guilty for having so many UFOs - especially when I run into a sewing sister who never starts a new project before completely finished the first project.  I hear my parents and teachers from my childhood saying "You're not a quitter. Finish what you start" and I feel quilty, I mean guilty.  But then I remember how much I love the beginning of making a quilt. I love the end part too -  when I eventually get there. But I really love the starting. It brings me joy! 

So, I've decided - Rejoice in the part I love. Finish what and when I can. Start the projects that call to me. No guilt, just fun!

So, its confession time - how many UFOs do you have?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I'm Back!!

I think we've all experienced it to one degree or another - that feeling of being overwhelmed, blue, in a rut, under the weather, or down right depressed. I have to admit that I have been experiencing all of these feelings over the last 6 months or so. It's frustrating, because I have a great life - a wonderful, supportive husband, great home, a to-die-for quilting studio, a good job, health (mostly), friends, financial security, etc. But I just was not happy. While I was out (overwhelmed, blue, in a rut, etc.) I didn't post anything and sometimes would not visit my studio for days at a time. Come to find out it was most likely due to some dietary issues combined with some depression, and with some lifestyle changes I am back on track. HooWoo!

The year is winding down and I've been doing a review of some of the things I've accomplished this year and thinking about some goals for next year. 

Even given my 6 month funk, this year I:

  • made progress on my multitude of BOMs.
  • improved my free-motion quilting skills.
  • moved and set up a sweet quilt studio.
  • reached out more to friends and hosted several sew-in days.
  • visited some new quilt shops on my trip to New England.
  • attended 2 retreats.
  • signed up for (and watched most of them) lots of Craftsy classes.
  • added to my stash of fabrics, books, and patterns (not sure if this is an accomplishment or something to be avoided next year).
  • took some great workshops (the highlights being Jacquie Gering, Victoria Findlay Wolfe, and Kelly Ashton).
  • designed (in my head) several quilts for my "50 Quilts from 50 States" series.
  • started my self portrait quilt.

I still have time to think about what I want to accomplish next year. The hard part will be limiting my list to what is actually do-able!

So standby for next year's goals and updates on what I'm curious about in my studio!