Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Birds and the Bee Blocks

Appearances can be deceptive.

Generally speaking paper piecing is more complicated than regular straight line piecing.
And therein lies the deception.

Tall Tales Block

This paper-pieced block was completed in one afternoon - start to finish.  The Tall Tales Block was quick and I love how it turned out. It looks so adorable.

Economy Block - 1 of 9

This seemingly simple "economy block" block took three days. It was SO MUCH WORK. It has 81 pieces - go ahead count away. Each of the nine units has nine fabric pieces.

Economy Block - 2 of 9


Picking fabric required careful consideration of contrasts and values. I wanted to make sure that each unit had enough contrast between the three fabrics but also had sufficient contrast with the adjacent unit and yet the whole block had to look harmonious.

Economy Block - 3 of 9

Fussy-cutting, trimming, squaring, ironing galore and yet the points may or may not match.  I am exhausted just describing this 12.5" block.  In any case, it is done.

Finally Done

This economy block monster robbed me of my desire to attempt the next Bee Block.  The Urban Woven Block will just have to wait for now.

Completing Bee Blocks goal is incomplete :-(

Besides, I have a new role to fulfill this year. I am the Block of the Month (BOM) Coordinator for my Quilt Guild.

After the success of My Twitter Feed, several of my guild members asked me to provide the Bird Block as a BOM.

Mirror Image Birds - 9" by 12"

I chose to enlarge the block and also include the changes I made when I was first making the birds.
The new block is 9" by 12".

I completed the enlarged birds block. Also finished writing the tutorial but...now the PDF file is so big that I was unable to email it to my newsletter. Split it into three PDF documents. That should work.

I am having trouble with my June Tailor basting spray.  It is inconsistent. Sticky in some parts and not in others.  Makes the quilt sandwich unstable, causing it to move, resulting in tucks and puckers. I experienced the same problem when quilting Mayflower.

Basting Pins

For now, I have augmented the basted sandwich with basting pins.  Hope I can finish this quilt this weekend.  But I need to find another basting spray. What do you suggest?

Work in Progress

Just feels like I have been spinning wheels but not getting to my goals.  Ten days to go.
I could really use words of wisdom from you!!!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Quilt Show and Bragging Rights

I had such a fabulous weekend that I am still reliving the experience through pictures.

Paper Doll Mini Quilt

Mari drove from Delaware so that we could go the Quilt Show together.  She brought me fabric (scraps I requested) and my own paper doll wall hanging.

Juicy Scraps

We ate lunch. Her generous compliments on my culinary skills made me blush and she ended up with leftovers :-) That is a win-win situation.

My Twitter Feed on display at the 44th Quilters Unlimited Show

At the show, I posed with my quilt and beamed with delight  every time I heard appreciation for my work.

There was no dearth of eye candy at the quilt show.
We lingered, took pictures and discussed techniques and patterns. Here are a few of my picks.

Happy Fish by Barbara Delaney
These fish are just the kind of blocks that make me happy.

Farm Girl Vintage by Kelley Davis
These vintage blocks are super adorable. Bet there is never a dull moment in making these blocks.

Hand Pieced by Jeanne Culbert
Jeanne is in my Quilt Guild and I am overawed by her patience to put together this beast of a quilt  -all hand pieced!!!

Blue Ridge Beauty by Jennifer McKinney
And here is Jennifer's scrappy beauty. This is her second Blue Ridge Beauty. She made one as a wedding present for her niece. 

The House that Kaffe Built by Denise Racz
I noticed that most houses have yellow windows depicting that the family is in, and a few have black windows, showing that the occupants are out.  Love such attention to detail.

Daryl's Seascape by Madaline Stutes
Meticulously paper-pieced fish make this quilt a favorite.

The Nana & Kyra Quilt by Nancy Fallone
When Nancy's  18-month old granddaughter Kyra saw her piecing, she was fascinated. Every visit, she would pick two squares and hand them to her nana to sew them together, resulting in this quilt.

Mari joined me in chai and samosas after the show. Our discussion of fabrics, patterns and tutorials nicely rounded out my day. So exhausted but very happy.

May I brag a little? Or a lot?

On Sunday, Janet Marney of Quilters Unlimited of Northern Virginia called me to ask for my permission to use My Twitter Feed as the group photo of their Facebook page.
I asked her if she could hold the phone for a minute...while I did a happy dance and finished running around in circles around my coffee table.
Then we both laughed.
Here is the link - https://www.facebook.com/groups/304623407466/

If May was crazy busy, June offers little respite.  As a result I have fallen behind on my Honey Pot Bee blocks. Must finish those in June.

Fabric Squares for the June Block

Me: How is that for June OMG?
Inner Voice: Small but doable.
Me: Well, then let's complicate it a bit.
Inner Voice: No don't
Me: Why not?
Inner Voice: Because you also have to write the BOM tutorial for the Birds block
(I am the Block of the Month Coordinator for my Guild this year and I have been ASKED to provide the Birds block tutorial)
Me: Huh, and I cannot do both?
Inner Voice: You also have to MAKE the Bird blocks for the BOM.

Fabric pick for the Bird Block
Me: YIKES!!!
Inner Voice: Like I said.
Me: No, you will not discourage ME. If I do not achieve my goals that is one thing but to NOT EVEN TRY - that is UNACCEPTABLE!!!

Yes, sometimes Paul is asleep (or out) and the conversation must go on.

For my June OMG, I have a flimsy that is screaming to be quilted and I will get it done. Here is the backing and binding. No, I am not showing the front till it is finished.

Backing & Binding

Three goals for June
1. Finish a quilt
2. Make Bird blocks and write the BOM tutorial.
3. Get up to speed on the Honey Pot Bee blocks.

I will be linking with Elm Street Quilts for the June OMG.

Here is the fabric I ordered from Connecting Threads. At 40% off, I am pretty pleased with it :-)
Joel Dewberry Fabrics 
So, how have you been and what are your June goals.  I will be linking with all my favorite linky parties and as usual I'd love to hear from you.

This blogpost contains affiliate links.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Elephant Under My Needle

Growing up in India, we learned very little about world happenings.  Even after the advent of the internet, we were all about local events, local/national news and Bollywood celebrity gossip.

And now, I can hardly believe that I am the same person.
with Melanie

I heaved a massive sigh of relief following the news about the French elections' outcome.  I danced with joy after I heard the news about the release of the Chibook girls by Bokko Haram. I fell in love again with Justin Trudeau as he stood up to the American government's unreasonable demands.

Melanie taking pictures at the Ethiopian Restaurant

And earlier this month, I ate Ethiopian food with Melanie - a quilter blogger from Germany!!!

My Sew Together Bag - Gift from Melanie

Look what she brought for me - a Sew Together Bag in yummy rainbow colors.  I love it!!! There are little surprises inside like the bright zippers, a bug, and a fabric that Melanie herself designed.

Bright Zippers, Fun Fabric

The fabric is hilarious. It has literal English translations of German sayings.

and a bug!!!

Check Melanie's blog to read about the process.

May was a rollercoaster month for me with friends, travels and looming deadlines.  That is why I am particularly thrilled with my OMG finish.

Mayflower Finished!!!

This quilt is for my cousin brother and his wife.  They live in India not far from my Mom and are there for her, whenever she needs them.  They are quietly supportive and completely dependable. 
I make it a point to visit them whenever I go back to India. 

Moda Paradiso - the inspiration
Cutting fabric
I am unlikely to travel to India any time soon. Therefore this quilt will travel with my sister who visits India in June. The deadline on completion for this quilt is/was Memorial Day.  Since I just returned from my trip after successfully delivering the finished quilt to my sister, I can heave a big sigh of relief and share the story, the process and the pictures.

Finished Flimsy

This quilt uses a modified rail fence block showcasing Moda Paradiso fabrics combined with a dark blue yardage. Each block is 10" and the finished quilt is 80" by 100". 

On my bed

At this time, let’s take a side trip 
One morning, a few years ago, I was traveling to Washington DC in the Metro.  I was sitting next to a woman who was knitting a scarf. Naturally, we engaged in a conversation. She told me that wherever there is a mistake, it results in a knot like appearance on the knitted surface.  She showed me a couple. But here is where it becomes fun – she said that each knot shows that the recipient is loved. So the grandkids receiving the scarves LOOK for those knots and whoever has the most knots wins because he/she is the most loved.

Can you spot the two mistakes?

So when I discovered the two mistakes in this quilt, I chose to leave them there – one showing my love for my cousin brother and one for his wife.

Wide Backing

I chose a wide backing from ConnectingThreads.  The batting is White & Natural.

Quilted the Beast

The quilting is ...well, quilting a queen size quilt is a pain.

Quilting Detail

The plan was to quilt two straight lines an inch apart and then quilt a gentle curve between them.
At some point, the flimsy developed a mind of her own - she moved and writhed and was determined to escape from under the presser foot as I struggled to keep the elephant under control.

Ooh the play of light and shade

I could still quilt it but there was severe distortion, several tucks and infinite frustration. I left the room to check emails and then drifted off to Facebook before landing on Pinterest. Time passed.
I heard a knock. Paul was at the door.

Paul: What happened babe?
Me: What do you mean?
Paul: You left your sewing machine on?
Me: Well, I got distracted and then I got sidetracked before I took off at a tangent.

Are we there yet?

Knots to Bury

By now Paul is rolling on the floor laughing

Me: But thanks for checking. 
Paul: Don't you have a deadline.
Me: I hate this beast of a quilt.
Paul: But you must finish it.
Me: Hate it
Paul: Finish it
Me: Hate
Paul: Finish
Paul: Finish it and put it away.
Me: OK.

Mayflower - Photoshoot

This is my May OMG FINISHED!!!  Time to reward myself with some fabric :-) 

Since Connecting Threads is having a Memorial Day sale, I just might get something from there.

Of course Craftsy is having a sale too. Some classes are $10.

This one caught my eye. I guess Indian food is becoming more mainstream.

Hope you had a relaxing long weekend.
As usual, I'd love to hear from you about your distractions, side trips and finishes!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

An evening with Bonnie Hunter

Beaming with Bonnie

On Monday, I attended a lecture and trunk show by Bonnie Hunter.  To be able to fully understand my fascination for Bonnie we have to go back to Homeful.


I made Homeful in 2015 and shared the link to the blogpost on my Facebook page. That is when a magical thing happened. Bonnie Hunter saw my Homeful quilt. She loved it and shared the link on her Quiltville FB page.

But I had NO IDEA!!!

My friends on Missouri Star Quilting Forum noticed it and started a thread.

After I absorbed (somewhat) the euphoria, I sent an email to Bonnie, thanking her for the recognition, for the kind words and giving me a free advertisement.
Bonnie wrote back to me. I was an Cloud Nine.

Bonnie and me

If you are a quilter, you know Bonnie Hunter. How do I explain this phenomenon to a non-quilter?
Well, Bonnie is so famous that her calendar is fully booked for two straight years.  Folks want to book her for further out but she refuses to do so, because that would be insane. She has several patterns to her name and has written several books. She has a signature style.


It is like if I was a minor theater actor or an understudy and then I receive commendation for my acting from Meryl Streep.  You get the picture. But here is what is really important - the way she treated me speaks volumes about her.

Bonnie signed this to me!!!

So when I learned (by stalking her calendar) that she would be in Manassas (45 minutes away) for a lecture and trunk show, I made it a point to be there.

Talking Turkey

My friend Jennifer (also a Bonnie Hunter fan) was only too happy to drive with me.

Blue Skies

I walked into the room and walked up to Bonnie, as she was sitting behind the table with her books, notions etc. She looked up. I smiled and began to speak. She squealed with delight as she recognized me. Next thing we are hugging (like old friends). Bonnie recognized ME!!!!

Bonnie in action

I enjoyed every minute of her presentation. Loved each and every quilt and drooled over the scrappy goodness. She has amazing energy and such an easygoing manner.  I am so thankful to the Stone House Quilters Guild for hosting Bonnie Hunter.


I had to buy Bonnie's book - String Fling. It includes patterns for both Talking Turkey, Blue Skies and  nine others.  She was kind enough to sign it for me :-)

No, it is not too small :-)

On our drive back, while I was still giddy with excitement, Jennifer remarked - explaining the stature of Bonnie Hunter to a non-quilter is hard.  Jennifer had told her friend earlier - Think of this as attending a Lady Gaga concert.
Yes, I said, except Lady Gaga picked me out from the crowd and hugged me :-D
Hope you can forgive my self-absorption for just this one time.