Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dry Ridge

Yesterday I went on a road trip with some friends to the Quilt Box in Dry Ridge, Kentucky.  The Quilt Box is something of  legend among quilters around here, but this was my very first visit.  (Unfortunately, the shop doesn't appear to have a website; however, if you Google the shop name with the town name, you'll find it.) Getting there is certainly interesting.  You turn off the main road and drive a while, up hill and down dale.  Then, when you see the little "Quilt Box" sign, which is very easy to miss, you turn into a gravel road and drive some more.  At the end of that road on the top of a ridge is the shop.

That part of Kentucky is, I think, among the prettiest sections of the state.  There are steep ridges with narrow little hollows and tiny towns nestled here and there.  It's a beautiful drive along the country roads, especially on a bright, sunny, not-too-humid day like yesterday.  When you get to the top of one of the ridges, you feel as though you are on top of the world.  A bit of heaven, really.

The Quilt Box specializes in reproduction fabrics.  Specializes.  In my favorite fabrics.  Oh my.

Some serious shopping ensued...

I'm leaning toward a pattern I saw in the August 2010 American Patchwork & Quilting magazine called Blue Jeans and Bubble Gum. It's based on a quilt in Pam Buda's collection.  For that I need more blues, lots of blues. 

And I have half-started another little hand sewing project using a block I saw somewhere or other that is going to need some reproduction blues:

I also needed some reds for the outer rings around the blue stars, because I really like this color set and I think I'm going to keep it pretty uniform for the rest of the blocks.  I haven't decided yet how many more blocks--I'll just keep on until I get tired of making them. 

On the drive back we got into a discussion about prewashing fabrics, and it turned out that all four of us prewash.  I know some don't.  I prewash because cotton fabric shrinks.  It really does, I promise you.  And there is the chance that, even with high quality fabric, the dyes will run.  I always put my fabrics through the washing machine with a Color Catcher* strip, and sometimes the strip comes out of the wash unchanged and sometimes not.  After putting in all the work to sew a quilt together, I don't like the idea that it could be ruined by running dyes in just one wash.

Take a look from the Color Catcher for the blue fabrics:

That last strip is nearly white, although to be safe, I think I might put the blues through one more time.

And the reds:

Enough said.

The weather here has turned glorious for the day.  Temperatures are in the mid-70's, no humidity, clear skies, and sunshine.  All the windows are open and there is a breeze shifting the curtains now and then.  I hope this keeps up for another day or two!

*Color Catchers are available in most grocery stores in the laundry section.  I believe they come from the same company that makes Shout, the stain product. They "catch" any loose dye in the wash water and trap it.  I certainly don't own any stock in the company, but I think they are well worth the small expense.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Design Wall Monday::Some Relief from the Heat

I finished six more squares, enough for a little wall hanging.  They are just pinned up while I audition background fabric for the sashing and borders.  The blocks are actually quite fun to sew and they use such small scraps that they hardly made a dent in the reproduction scrap basket.

I love the dynamic color combinations of antique quilts, and I think I'm getting a little better at letting go of having to have everything match, although I know I still have a ways to go. 

These blocks are from Jill Reid's pattern in the June 2010 edition of American Patchwork & Quilting. It's called "Odds and Ends" a good name for a scrappy pattern like this, I think.

We've had eleven days in a row with temperatures in the nineties.  It used to be that during a heat wave we would hope for a late afternoon shower to cool things off, even just temporarily, but any more it seems like we have such violent thunderstorms that now we just hope they pass us by.  Storms like this one send us scurrying for shelter with one eye on the TV for the weather news and the other on the sump pump in the basement. Pretty to look at, but not so much to live through.

Early this morning a (blessedly!) weak line of showers moved through the area and cooled things off into the low 70's.  Bliss!  I was able to open the windows this morning and turn off the ac.  And it only made it into the mid-80's today.

You can see what others in blogland have on their design walls today by checking out Judy L.'s blog Patchwork Times


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lucky Find

The other day between appointments (hair and optometrist) I stopped in at a local flea market.  I've never had much luck finding anything there, but I'm always hunting for a certain iron skillet to replace one we broke after 30 years.  One booth that I usually gravitate towards first has textiles and old copies of quilting magazines.  Sometimes the owner has an old quilt out, but usually they're stained or made of cotton/poly blends or just plain falling apart.

This time, however, I was very lucky.

It's a beauty!  A hand-stitched grandmother's flower garden quilt top.  There were a few little rust stains here and there, but overall it is in great condition.  The colors look washed out in the photo above, but they are a bit truer below.

Each flower has a pumpkin-orange center with the red, white, and blue print around it.  The outer rings have a wonderful mixture of conversation prints, polka dots, checks and stripes.

It had to come home with me.  Think of it as a rescue mission. 

This now joins the never-ending hand quilting queue.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Design Wall Monday::Odds & Ends

Having fallen off the blogging wagon, it's a little hard to clamber on board again.  I'm still trying to catch up on hundreds of posts on Bloglines; I haven't been able to get around and comment much lately.

The news here is the hot weather.  This is the second day of a heat advisory; already today at 10:30 a.m. the temperature is 88 degrees (31 celcius).  The forecasted high temperature today is supposed to be 97 (36 celcius). Thank goodness for a working air conditioner.  Last year at this time I swear I remember wearing long-sleeve shirts, now the thought of that just makes me cringe.

All gardening has to be done in the early, early morning.  Week before last I transplanted some of my Japanese painted ferns from the sunny front yard to the shadier back and they seem to be taking hold.

Everything back there still needs to be mulched, but that's a chore for another day.

Anyway, I finally have something to show for Judy's Design Wall Monday, although it's not much.

I found this pattern by Jill Reid in the June 2010 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting, called "Odds and Ends".  The blocks finish out at a mere 8 inches.  More itsy bitsy pieces.  Sigh.  I'm not sure why I've become so enamored of little pieces, but there it is. Seriously though, you could probably make a full-size quilt with just the contents of your scrap drawer using this pattern.  It hardly made a dent in my reproduction scrap bin.

I've finished three blocks and have cut fabric for six more.  And that's all.  Just enough for a small wall hanging.  I definitely don't feel like taking on yet another long-term project at this point.  Not with all the UFO's piled up in the sewing room.

You can check out what others have on their design walls this week by reading Judy L's blog

Have a great week!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I certainly didn't mean to be absent for so long.  Everything got very, very busy towards the end of May with all the things that need to be done at the end of the school year, plus having to pack up my classroom of a gazillion years in preparation for moving to a new school.  Have I mentioned that I am somewhat of a packrat?  As a special education teacher I never know what materials might come in handy "some" day, so I had drawers full of things to sort through and pack.  And even better, I had trained the rest of the teaching staff to think of me before discarding older materials, so even when I was knee deep in boxes, I still had teachers offering me more materials!  Thankfully, all is packed and (hopefully!) moved to the right classroom in my new school. 

In the midst of all the packing, I did manage a weekend off for a mini-retreat with my sewing group.  I was able to finally sew together all my Sister's Choice blocks.

I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out.  Pink is not really my favorite, but the brown tones it down or butches it up, depending on your point of view.  It still needs borders, but I'm going to let it marinate for a bit before I make a decision on those. For details on the pattern, check out my last post. I can't say enough about Bonnie's patterns.  Her directions are clear and easy to follow, and the blocks went together easily. 

Now that summer break has finally begun I'm looking forward to having lots more sewing time.  Stay tuned!