Thursday, April 30, 2009

April Family Pictures

We had a lot of fun in April (before the stomach plague hit). Here are some pictures first of a Saturday that we spent at our local children's museum here in Raleigh:

The kids had a lot of fun playing dress-up and performing on stage, playing pirate on the pirate ship, and "sock-skating" around the mini Carolina Hurricanes hockey rink.

Last week, my son turned 3. In lieu of a party, we decided to spend a family day at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro.

I hope this is a good preview of a fun summer ahead!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Triptych Mini Quilts

I'm back now from my way-too-short mini-vacay to Florida and, as I expected, my re-entry to real life has been rough. Grrrrrrrr ...

I did manage to finish hand-sewing the binding on to my Doll Quilt Swap 6 mini quilt while I was away! I'm head over heels in love with that little thing ... and my wife loves it even more than that! It is going to be tough to send it away, but I know it's headed to a good home. Pictures of that little quilt soon.

Oh, and before I move on to the pics for this post, I wanted to answer some F.A.Q's (frequently asked questions) that keep popping up in my comments. I would usually answer each one individually, but SO MANY of you have your profiles set to "no-reply". I figured it was just easier to answer them publicly.

Of all of the comments I receive, the questions I most frequently get asked are "how do you find the time?", and "how can I get involved in some of these swaps?"

The time question always amuses me because, as much as you readers tell me that I get a lot done, I always feel like I'm behind. I don't feel like my output level is nearly as high as y'all think it is, so it's nice to get such a positive reaction.

To answer the time question, 99% of my sewing and quilting gets done between the time the kids are asleep (usually between 8 & 8:30 PM) and the time I go to bed (usually between 11 & 11:30 ... sometimes earlier, but often later), typically 4-5 evenings per week. I just try to be as productive as possible during those hours, sometimes working straight through on a single project, sometimes just trying to get a lot of stuff done for multiple projects. For example, I might spend a whole evening doing the cutting for multiple projects, or the ironing.

I have, for the most part, forgone television (save a few choice shows), opting to catch up via my DVR on the nights I just don't feel like sewing. Right now, I have every episode of the current season of "Lost", my favorite show, but haven't been able to start watching it yet.

As for the swaps question, many of you know that I am a devoted follower of Flickr. My first ever quilt block swap was on (and it was great) and I've done some Craftster swaps since, but I quickly converted over to the Flickr swaps.

A great place to start is to check out the ongoing swaps like the 6-12" Mini Quilt Swap, Swap 'Til You Drop, or the Mini Quilt in a Bag Swap. These swaps all welcome new members and regularly (e.g. monthly, in the case of the first two) start up new swaps. From there, it is easy to keep your eyes and ears open for other swaps, quilting bees, and the like being announced.

OK, and now on to the quilts ...

Several months ago, I proposed a "triptych" theme in the 6-12" Mini Quilt Swap. A triptych is defined as "art consisting of a painting or carving (especially an altarpiece) on three panels (usually hinged together)", and the idea was to create a set of mini quilts for your partner that all "fit" together. This could mean they follow a theme, or a color palette, or otherwise complement one another in any number of ways.

I was partnered with Katy from the UK, who blogs at I'm a Ginger Monkey.  I found a quilt block that I loved in Quilt Sampler magazine that featured Tula Pink's "Nest" fabric and decided to make 4 of them for Katy.  Why 4?  Because there were four distinct colorways in the Nest line, and I had the idea to make one for each of the four members of Katy's family.  I had a charm pack and a layer cake, and I was ready to go!

Katy and I were on the same wavelength, because she also made me quilts with my family in mind.  Take a look at the amazing quilty portraits that she made of my three kids!

Here are the backs of my new quilts.  Katy has amazing taste in fabrics -- even the ones she uses for her quilt backs!

These will be hung prominently in our home and will be treasured!!  Thanks so much, Katy.  I hope you like your little quilts as much as I like mine.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quilting Bee Blocks

Greetings from sunny Florida!  I took a long weekend to spend some time with my family here in Sarasota ... Lido Key, to be exact.  The house is amazing, the weather is beautiful ... and I'm not at work.  What could be better?  Flying home tomorrow, though ... and then it's back to reality on Wednesday.

In the meantime, I thought I'd take this opportunity to catch up on showing some blocks that I've worked on recently.  The first 2 are for Kim (aka quiltinkimmie) for her Buzz Cuts group.  She sent out various black & white prints with one containing red to tie all of the blocks together.  I had been admiring a Fun Quilts-designed quilt called "Balancing Act" from one of the most recent issues of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine and decided that Kimmie's quilt could use some triangles.  I made 6 blocks, added some scraps to the four corners, and then squared them up a bit askew to give the block some interest.  I love the way this one came out!

I had inadvertently cut out waaaaay too many of the center triangles and, since I had enough leftover fabrics, decided to make Kim a second block.  I went improv on this one, and I think this blocks pretty cool, too.  One of the other group members commented in Flickr that it reminded her of a book.  I  surely didn't have that in mind when creating the block, but love hearing how it could be interpreted in many different ways.

In the SewConnected 3 group, sew~amy also sent out black, white & red fabrics; however, ants are the theme for this quilt, as Amy wants it to be a picnic blanket for her family to use this summer.  She sent each member a cute embroidered ant to feature in our blocks, so I of course wanted the little guy to be front & center when I made my block.  I went improv on this one too, creating it without a pattern or too much of a plan in mind when I started piecing it together.  I added some of my favorite Tula Pink ladybugs, thinking they could keep the ants company!

These last blocks were all created for fellow members of the bee inspired group.  Meredith sent out mostly solid fabrics using this as a wonderful inspiration quilt.  She wanted straight-up square-in-square blocks, letting the colors rather than the pattern give this quilt its personality.  We were free to make the blocks any sizes we wanted, as long as they fit together to make a 12" block.  I made one and a half blocks, with the grey-bordered square on the right being the beginning of another block ... I just didn't have enough fabric to finish it out.

This is going to be a great quilt.  You should check out Meredith's photostream to see some of her in-progress photos -- it already looks amazing with just a few blocks put together so far!

Finally, Dy requested that we make house blocks with the bright and vibrant rainbow of batiks that she sent out.  She requested that we all make the same pattern, which is somewhat unusual for these bees but also a welcome change.  I've been wanting to make a house block for a while now but never had the opportunity.  We were free to customize the color placements for the different elements of the house.  I think her quilt is going to be colorful, happy, and fun.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Nothing But Kisses Charity Auction Quilt

A few months back, Victoria of the Bumble Beans blog put out a call for help. She needed small & scrappy 9-patch blocks for a charity quilt that she and her daughter were planning. The charity is Love Without Boundaries who, according to their website, "touches the lives of thousands of children today through foster care, medical, education, and nutrition programs." Of course, I quickly volunteered to make a few blocks for this great cause! (Seriously, how could I say "no" to Victoria's beautiful little girl who, at her young age, has already done so much to help other people??)

After receiving all of the donated blocks from around the world, Victoria assembled a beautiful quilt that she so appropriately named "Nothing But Kisses". The auction for the quilt has just recently opened. Please click here for the official auction site for the quilt and consider making a bid if you are in the position to do so. I know I will. Wouldn't this be an amazing gift for someone ... or for oneself?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Japanese Mini Quilts

I've been reading (quite sympathetically) over the past few months about the mutant stomach bugs that have been making their way through so many of your homes.  Well, it seems that we here in the Quilt Dad household are not immune.  My son brought one home from school last Friday and it's been making its way around all week ... leaving a wake of cancelled birthday parties and missed deadlines in its path.  Mrs. Quilt Dad and I have been tag-teaming childcare duties, and I'm home with my son (who hasn't been able to kick it yet) today.

Grrrrr ....

Anyhow, I thought it would be good time to post about one of my recent mini quilt swaps.  In March, the Swap 'Til You Drop group traded mini quilts with a Japanese theme.  Here is the awesome loot I received from Andrea (aka quiltedoma).

Besides an amazing quilt (which I'll get to in a minute), Andrea sent some beautiful Kaffe Fassett fabrics, stuff from the United Nations (where she works!!), and a bunch of great stuff for my kids (including some U.N. teddy bears that aren't in the picture because they were already snatched up and in their beds!)

And now, the quilt:

How cool is this?  It's a double-sided quilt!  On one side is a coin-like design with beautiful Asian fabrics.  And on the other side is a really creative design featuring an origami crane.

I'm always looking for creative label ideas, and Andrea's is truly original.  Because the quilt is double-sided, she created a dangling tag featuring all of the quilt info!  Now it can hang on either side.  I love this quilt so much -- thanks again, Andrea!

When I found out it was a Japanese-themed swap, I of course turned to my trusty Japanese Block book.  I decided to create a small Japanese block sampler, and pulled a palette of brown, pink and cream fabrics from Amy Butler's Midwest Modern line.

Here's my pieced back:

This pictures gives a little bit of a better view of the four blocks.  I really enjoyed making this quilt, but in retrospect wonder if I should have stuck with solids or smaller prints.  I think some of the design gets lost because of the large prints on some of the fabrics I used.

As always, I had a great swap experience.  For those of you who have been asking me in the comments about how to get involved in swaps, I encourage you to come over to Flickr and jump in to the many active swaps happening over there!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bloggers Quilt Festival | My Favorite Quilt

I am excited to be taking part in Amy's Bloggers Quilt Festival today! For those of us who aren't fortunate enough (yet? : ) to go to the big quilt festivals, this is a fantastic way to browse a virtual gallery of the quilts that bloggers have chosen to showcase. Be sure to visit Park City Girl to view the full list of participating bloggers ... especially because there are some great giveaways happening, too!

OK, so for those of you who read my blog regularly, you may have noticed that I am a bit of a swap junkie. Actually, I know you've noticed, because you've told me so in my comments!! Well there are several reasons why I enjoy swapping so much.

First, for a relatively new quilter, it has been the best possible way to practice, practice, practice. Seam allowances, matching points, pinning & pressing ... you name it. Swaps have provided me with a crash course in block-making.

Second, it has enabled me to participate in the vibrant, colorful, supportive, and fun community of online quilters. I have met so many fabulous people that I never would have met otherwise. And to be able to share my passion with like-minded people is priceless.

Finally, it has allowed me to help fulfull other people's visions for their creations and put my stamp on a little piece of other people's lives around the world. Being able to play with new fabrics and try new techniques to stretch myself has been nothing short of a BLAST.

So for my favorite quilt, I have chosen to display a virtual quilt made up of some of my favorite blocks that I've made that are now featured in other people's quilts around the world. (A virtual quilt is quite fitting for a virtual quilt festival, no?) Besides, all of this swapping has left me little time to complete anything of my own!

Many thanks to all of you with whom I am taking this journey for your inspiration, your encouragement, your help, and your friendship.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Simply Charming!

I'm really enjoying one of the newer swaps that I've joined over on Flickr, called the "Mini Quilt in a Bag" swap ... so named because, in its first round, participants sent their partner a small bag full of fabrics, embellishments, etc., and the partner was responsible for making a mini quilt out of what was sent.

I didn't participate in the first round, but you can see the twist of this group -- you actually receive in the end a quilt made from fabrics that you yourself pick out! I liked the appeal of that concept, since I have a bunch of fabric that I love but tend to make stuff for someone else with ... now I can receive something in return from the very fabrics that I know I love!

I joined up in the second round of the swap, which was nicknamed the "Simply Charming" round. This time around, the fabric that was sent to our partners took the form of a single charm pack of fabric. LOVED this idea, since I am a big fan of charm packs!!

Even before being paired with Sara (who blogs at Just One More ...), I had already decided to dip into my Tula Pink stash and send one of my prized "Flutterby" charm packs. I've been hoarding this line and was so excited to finally see something made from it.

And here's what Sara made!:

Isn't it great? And the best part about the quilt is something that you really can't see in the pictures: Sara embellished the quilt with tiny little jeweled beads throughout that blend seamlessly into the colors and designs of the fabric. I tried to get a picture so that you might be able to see some of what she added:

It really has to be seen up close and in person to be appreciated. I consider myself VERY lucky to call this one mine. Thanks so much, Sara!

In return, Sara sent me a charm pack of the "Fig & Tree" line by Fig Tree Quilts to play with. I thought the small prints were perfect to be highlighted in this little "X" quilt that I put together:

Sorry ... I know these are dark pictures. I decided to go with a lot of white space on this one (off-white, actually), and I'm really happy with how it came out.

I had a pretty large cut of an older Fig Tree print that I thought worked well as a backing.

I hope you like it, Sara!

Bloggers Quilt Festival

I'm excited to be participating in the first annual Bloggers Quilt Festival, hosted by fellow SewConnected quilter Amy (who blogs at Park City Girl). There will be loads of great prizes, so be sure to check it out!

April Blocks

April has been a great month so far in the many quilting bees to which I belong. For example, check out the fabrics that Marilyn selected over in the SewConnected 2 group. She's making a quilt for her soon-to-be-born grandson ... but since the quilt will be living at her house, she wanted something that she could enjoy, too! I was really blown away (in the best possible way) by the selection, which included prints from Amy Butler and Anna Maria Horner that worked together beautifully.

Marilyn gave us the choice of making either 6" or 12" blocks, which I think will make for a very dynamic and interesting quilt. I decided to go small this time and ... well, once I got started, I couldn't stop.

Here they are all together:

The simple one in the top center is my favorite.

And in the Cottage Quilting Bee, Katie from Metrosupial Designs sent out a color-coordinated scrap package to everyone in the group and asked for a basic block of 36 2.5" squares. I got my favorite color to work with -- orange -- and had a lot of fun fussy-cutting each and every square to feature something interesting.

Another grand, spectacular quilt in the making, I think!

Finally (and also from the Cottage Quilting Bee), my favorite British monkey sent out a charming selection of bird-themed fabrics ... but really, would you expect anything less than fabulous from Katy?? I went totally improv on this one, shooting for a "hop, skip, & a jump" look a la Denyse Schmidt. (Sorry for linking to your post, Kathy, but it's really the greatest example of the full quilt that I could find! Hope you don't mind ...) I pulled some coordinating Full Moon Forest from my collection to give the block some contrast. I hope she likes it!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

People are strange ... especially Emily!

Thanks for sticking with me, folks! I know I'm way behind on my blogging -- I've got 2 or 3 blog posts already started and in draft mode, and another 2 or 3 in my head -- so I am going to try my best to catch up.

First, let me thank you all for all of the glorious Tar Heel support. Sorry 'bout that loss, Kate ; )

Also, I appreciate all of the nice feedback I received regarding my embarrassment over the Quilt Arts fiasco. I was happy to hear that so many of you received at least part of your orders, even though I didn't receive a single thing. So if any of you want to throw a fat quarter or two my way ... you know, as a kind of finder's fee ... ... ... JUST KIDDING!! : )

So back to the sewing ...

Let me share with you a block I made a couple of weeks back for the Cottage Quilting Bee. Viv sent out a selection of black, white and red fabrics with an unusual request: create a quilt block in the spirit of a fictional character named Emily the Strange. I had never heard of Emily before, but Viv and her daughter are big fans and wanted a quilt in her honor.

The cool thing about Viv's request?? -- anything goes! Viv was up for any type of funky, out there block design and OK'd things like embroidery, applique, etc. I think her vision was to have a kind of large, usable art quilt. So I've said before that I like these groups because I can stretch myself, and boy did I ... ... ...
First, I have been somewhat obsessed with trying a reverse applique technique a la the Alabama Stitch Book. Have you guys checked out this book? Made any projects from it? I don't own it (yet), but have browsed it in Barnes & Noble many times.

Viv asked for hearts, so I figured I would overlay a black and white quilt block over a cut of red fabric, and reverse applique some hearts. I made a simple disappearing 9-patch block so that I would have a couple of large "frames" to work with. Mind you, this is the first time I've ever exposed any handwork (handiwork? what's the right word here?) to the world.

And once I started, I didn't stop! See Emily's initial in the small square above?

My research into Emily's world taught me about her super-cute pet cats. I was especially drawn to Miles, who is described as a "creative genius" and a "great improviser" ... but mostly because I think his little "x" eye is pretty bad-as*. So I took a stab at embroidering him on one of the blocks as well ...

Can I brag on myself a little here? I didn't have a chalk pencil or anything to sketch Miles out on the black fabric first, so I tackled this freehand. Pretty brave, eh? ... especially since I was working with someone else's fabric! Not too shabby, I think ... apart from the slight misstep on his chin. Oh well, it gives him some character!

Here's the final block all put together. As you can see, I also added a few ribbon tags that should wedge themselves in the seam allowance when the quilt is assembled. Wow, I really can't wait to see how this one turns out. Follow along in the Cottage Quilting Bee pool!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Let's make this interesting ...

I'm not sure how much I've mentioned here on my blog before, but we in the Quilt Dad household are huge UNC Tar Heel fans. Between Mrs. Quilt Dad and myself, we hold FOUR Carolina degrees ... with a possible fifth in our future (hers, not mine).

No sooner had I started celebrating the Tar Heels' win over Villanova last night than I started getting some smack talk comments on my blog ... specifically from a Ms. KateKwiltz in Chicago. A Michigan native, Kate has deluded herself into thinking that the Spartans might actually have a chance tonight. She's so confident in her team, in fact, that she challenged me to a friendly wager: 4 fat quarters to the winning team's fan. And we all know who that's going to be. Boy, I can't wait to add to my stash!

So if you're not sure who to root for in tonight's game, consider cheering for Quilt Dad over KateKwiltz in the Quilting Smackdown 2009!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sorry, Leslie ... the new winner is ...

I'm really sorry, Leslie ... I think I've been more than fair in giving you so long to get a hold of me, and so it is time to move on to my backup pick. (I still appreciate your comment though, and hope you come back soon!)

As you can see by the timestamp, I selected the backup at the same time that I picked the winner in an effort to be fair. I am glad now that I did! So without further delay ...

The winner is comment 101, which happens to be ...

Blogger Ryan said...

Please enter me John! Tanks for showcasing your talent. The world needs more male quilters!


And really, how fitting is it that Ryan would win a giveaway that was originally brought on by a Tribute to Male Quilters? It just feels right.

So Ryan, leave me a comment or shoot me an email and I'll get these pillows off to you right away!