Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Celebrate Quilts from the Past

I  love making small quilts with an antique look and a touch of history and, if you follow my blog, you probably do too. I'm Kathleen Tracy, The Sentimental Quilter, and Madame Samm has kindly asked me to be a guest blogger today. I'm a quilt designer and author with Martingale & Co. (That Patchwork Place).

I love reproduction fabrics and small quilts and there's a mix of both in my books. Quilts come in all sizes and I'm happy that so many quilters today are recognizing that small quilts are SO much fun to make - you can actually crank them out pretty quickly in between the large ones. I sometmes like to experiment with quilt blocks, colors or styles in my small quilts before I try them in a larger quilt.

Making quilts - large or small - with reproduction fabrics and traditional blocks is a great way for quilters to celebrate the past. Many of you know that this year is the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War - marking 150 years since the attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. My new book, The Civil War Sewing Circle, focuses on the impact that ordinary women had on the war through their sewing circles.

There's a small quilt in this book that is dear to my heart - the little one made with hexagons that's on the cover. I love love love hexagons and for awhile they were all the rage in Blogland. Every quilter and her cousin was making these cute little hexagon flowers using the English Paper Piecing technique.

Even though the hexagon quilts we are most familiar with today were called Grandmother's Flower Garden quilts from the 1930s, hexagon quilts were actually very popular during the 19th century too and they were often called Mosaic or Honeycomb quilts.  Here's an antique crib quilt that was made in 1850 using hexagons. Isn't it lovely??

I was really inspired by it when I made my own little hexagon quilt for The Civil War Sewing Circle. Unfortunately, while I was in the middle of making the 16 quilts/projects for the book, not to mention writing all of the delightful text, I realized I did NOT have time to make a big one by hand and so I took the shortcut and appliqued the "flowers" onto dark background squares to make it go a little faster and still make my deadline. I have quite a few hexagon flowers left over -  they were so much fun to make I just kept going. Perhaps someday I'll have time to put them together into a larger quilt too!

Here's how I did it. I used printable hexagons generated by this website to make mine and set each to come out at .60. Print them out on cardstock so you can use them over and over. There are also places that sell pre-cut paper hexagons but I couldn't find the size I was looking for and so this worked better for me for a smaller quilt.

Cut out the cardstock pieces and place on the wrong side of a 2-inch scrap square.

Cut out the shape and trim to a generous 1/4" all around. Fold over the edges one at a time and baste. I like to punch a hole in the center of the paper and use a small pin to hold the fabric in place and also to make it easier to pull out the paper later.

Then whipstitch six of them around a center hexagon, one side at a time, leaving the connecting side pieces or "spokes"  for last.

Take out the papers, applique the flowers onto background squares, or whipstitch them together one at a time to make the whole quilt by hand. Maybe that's what I'll do next time for a real antique-looking quilt.

It looks harder than it is but I know you can do this! Remember, just take it ONE hexagon at a time, LOL. I'm telling you, once you start, you can't stop . . . Even though my little quilt is finished I still like to pick up some scraps and make a few hexagons every now and then - it's so relaxing. Maybe I WILL make a bigger one someday.

editors note...I did a review of Kathy's book for Martingale....thought I would include it here...one of my fav sew far...

The Civil War Sewing Circle is reflective of an author who praises women of our past.
Kathleen Tracy introduces Adelia to us, a lady who was part of a sewing circle during the Civil war. Her desire to seek more directs us to unique designs of quilts that were made for the service men of that day. As you turn each page you can’t help but be drawn in to the words that spill upon your heart; the color that mirrors the souls of days gone by. You are moved by the hardship they had experienced. What was truly a necessity of that era, you come to understand their sense of loss; as well as the comfort that was shared by the quilters and the recipients alike.  Be it quilt designs or letter pockets; you put this book down you and you find such appreciation for the author and for being a woman who holds a thread in needle in hand. This book is certainly a treasure that touches more than your heart, it touches your soul.  I know ….whew! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Author! Author! Read All About it!

Hey Gang!  Glad to be back as your Post-er-du-Jour!  I'm Nan from Pots and Pins, where I daily regurgitate my life with the mister, it ain't pretty but so far no one has been able to stop me!

Today I want to answer one of the questions I am asked most often, and no, it's not, "Why did you marry the mister?"  Believe me, there is NO answer for that, as it's still a mystery to me!  And no, it's not, "Does the mister read your blog?"  Hahahaha...as if he can read!   No, the question I am asked over and over again is this:  How did you get published?  As in, seriously?  You wrote a book?  Truly, you?  You're an author?  Well, as shocking as it may seem, it is true.  I'll give you a minute to regain your composure - take all the time you need.  Actually, I have written dozens of books, although only a few have been published.  I know there are many of you who have a book inside you just screaming to get out!  So today, I'm going to tell you the secret to getting published!
Are you ready?  Here goes...the secret to getting published is...there is no secret!  There's a Publisher for EVERY book!  It true!  Think about the last time you were in a book store or the library, shelf after crammed shelf full of crap...can I say that?   Books on subjects that no one in their right mind would buy!  Books about people not in their right mind - how do they know?!  Books about dirt, glitter, celebrities, parties, cooking, cars, trucks, children, parents, aging, botox, knitting, shaving, toe-nails (yes!  There is a toe-nail book!) There is a book for anything and everything you can think of, and of course, books about quilting.  Here's the thing...when I tell you there is a publisher for every book, I'm telling you the truth!  If you want to be published the trick is just to find the right publisher!

Writing the book is the easy part!  After that comes the work - the work of finding just the right publisher for you.  It helps if you have a copy of Writer's Market.  It's a big fat book filled with every publishing company in the country, along with the requirements each company has for submitting manuscripts and who to submit them to.  Read it and do exactly as it says.  It will become your bible - your best friend - your worst nightmare!  Oh wait, that's just me!  Every year a new edition of this book is released, with updated information.  This is what you need to find YOUR publisher.  And when you get one reject postcard (not even a letter!) after another in the mail, you'll be tempted to throw the book into the trash, but don't!  Just keep going, there IS a publisher out there for you!  And if you doubt me, then get yourself back down to the book store and look at all the crap that get's published!!!  Surely YOUR book is better than that!?!

Getting discouraged is part of the game...the game of writing.  Just know that.  But staying discouraged is not.  You've got to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and send out one more manuscript!  If it were easy everyone would be an author!  If it were easy all two dozen of my books would be in print, atop my mantel, where I would dust and worship them daily!  But it takes time - time to write and rewrite, then delete and start over!  Then it takes time to make copies and mail the manuscript and even more time waiting to hear back.   Eventually you're going to get a phone call ... someone on the other end of the line is going to say, "We want to publish your book!"  And you're going to scream and jump up and down and then you'll say, "Who is this?  Samm?  Is this you?  Is this some kind of joke?  This is SO not funny!  Who?  What?  Really?  Are you sure?"  Yep,  it will probably go something like that - you'll be filled with disbelief because after months and months of sending out manuscripts, spending a small fortune on postage, you'll hear someone tell you they LIKE what you wrote and they want to send you a contract!  It's mind-blowing!  And I've only written little things!  I can only imagine what it must be like to get a BIG book deal!  And I do - I do imagine it - and if you are a writer and want to be published, you should, too!

I'm certainly not an expert in the publishing arena; I have only had a little bit of success. Just enough to spur me on!  And that's what I want to do today - spur YOU on!  If you've got an idea for a book, get it on paper and get to work on finding a publisher - and then let us all know so we can buy your book!  To help you get started, I'm giving away a copy of the 2011 Writer's Market for one lucky wanna-be-writer who leaves me a comment here AND on My Blog.

So click on over to Pots and Pins and leave me a comment - thanks to Madame Samm, who told me leaving a comment on my blog was a bit of a chore, I have fixed that little problem and it should be easy as pie...oh, speaking of pie, you'll love the recipe I've posted today, although it's not pie - it's equally as good!

While you're doing that I'll be stuffing my mailbox with another batch of manuscripts hot off the presses/printer...I'm just one phone call away from hearing those magic words..."We want to publish your book!"

Thanks again Samm! Until next time, happy reading, writing, (cooking, baking, eating!)  and quilting!  xoxo, Nan

Sunday, February 20, 2011

If it is Sunday it is REST day! PERIOD! lol

We tried the videos..great idea..
loved it actually...
but "WE" were not really resting...
I ended up with hundreds of emails....

I am returning this DAY into one of REST

and to prove it..
you will not be able to leave any comments...
I know...lol
I'm BAD! Ü

Saturday, February 19, 2011

GIVE those quilts and projects away...but KEEP them, too!

Hi everyone!  This is Teresa from Fabric Therapy, happy to be invited back to share something with you from my quilt cave.  Thank you to Madame Samm for the opportunity to talk about something very near and dear to my heart...PERSONAL QUILT ARCHIVING.

This is an album where I archive the quilts and other projects that I make.  Well, this is actually volume two!! 
I have not always done this, but I started trying to get a picture for each project in the late 1980s.  There have been some that I have missed, but with digital photography it is much easier to get pictures now (I was
SO-O-O happy to retire the little Kodak 126 Insta-Matic 35mm film camera!!). 

Sometimes it is hard to let go of the quilts we give as gifts...especially when there is no picture taken for reference.  When I make a quilt for someone, there are a lot of memories tied up in the experience...I can look at some quilts and remember major world events (do you remember what you were quilting on or around 9/11/01?).  My husband reads aloud to me sometimes when I am sewing...I still associate certain books and movies with particular quilts.  Also, quilts remind me of momentous life experiences, good and bad...quilting is my therapy!
It is fun to look back and relive the history. I try to save some little swatches of dominant fabrics due to photography not always showing the true colors, especially on projects I design myself.

At a minimum, there are certain facts I record:

3)  SIZE

There are many kinds of ways to do this.  I like scrapbooks with heavy pages that I can write and glue on.  Some people like to make digital photo books, where you upload your images to a commercial picture site like http://www.shutterfly.com/ to make a beautiful, bound photo book.  I have made some digital photo books for family pictures, but I still like the old-fashioned scrapbooking method for quilt archiving because I like to glue in little fabric swatches and sometimes a graph paper sketch, like on this page (the entry below shows that a bad picture is better than no picture at all!).

There are also some published quilt diaries that I have seen just for this purpose.  All you have to do is glue in a picture and write some notes.  Easy, easy!
The only problem I have with the published, pre-formatted books is that they make it hard to document a quilt where you want to archive several close ups of quilt features or blocks.  I've done a couple of anniversary quilts where I designed original quilt blocks to document certain personal details of the recipient's lives.  The blank format book works for me because I have the freedom to document each block, if I want to, like on this anniversary quilt for my in-laws.

I'm always preaching to students and friends about the importance of either attaching a label or signing the actual backing of a quilt with an archival fabric pen (Pigma or similar).  I have enjoyed following efforts in almost every state that find and document our country's precious quilt history.  Your quilts will want to be identified and admired in the same way some day, even if only by you and your family!  Applying labels to projects is one way of helping this documentation process...quilt diaries are another.

I used to worry about adding some sort of page decoration to each page, but that was overkill.  Fabric swatches and quilt pictures are plenty of color and page adornment.  I'm finding that keeping it simple is the best way to guarantee keeping things current.  When I start a new project, I put a simple index card in the box or bag containing the project.  On the card I record the name, starting date, and any important details.  Using pinking shears, I cut little squares of dominant fabrics as I'm cutting my pieces and attach them to the card with a small binder clip (you can also staple them or put the whole thing in a small sandwich - or pattern ziploc bag).

(Some people like to keep track of the hours over time that they spend working on a particular project, especially when selling the item later...that can be done on the backside of the same index card, kept in the project box.)

Once the project is finished, I make my page.  I like to use double-sided sticky squares to attach pictures and paper sketches.  I like tacky glue or little dots of my Roxanne's glue baste to adhere the fabric swatches.

  Don't be afraid or embarrassed about your writing...it's historic and personal!!  I used to try and use sticker letters or word-processed paragraphs, but soon learned to love my own writing for it's organic simplicity.  It's important to keep this process simple so that you will keep up with it!  Besides, you don't want this to eat into valuable quilting/sewing time!

Don't worry about catching up with previous projects all at once.  Start now!  As you have the time and inclination, you can archive past projects that you have pictures for.  Since everything is dated, even approximately, it doesn't matter if projects are out of chronological order.  We may start them in chronological order, but most of us don't finish them that way!  The finish date can be the most fun information you save.    I love it when the start and finish date are almost 20 years apart (like this one)!

I like this one because the start date was summer 1991 and the finish date is January 2008. I really pushed myself to finish this UFO after 17 years.

I still have not finished the first quilt I ever started.  It is a UFO that I probably will finish...some day.  Until then, I have a page with progress pictures and a start date from the early 1980's.  It will be fun to have a finish date on that one some day...most likely 20 years after starting it, LOL!

Here is is in its little UFO bucket with its little card...I can't believe I used electric blue to connect the flowers...(groan).  And it is a polyester/cotton blend...(horrors).  It was left over from making my humble dorm room curtains in college, LOL!  And all the flowers are made from calicoes from the 1970s, back when there was NO VARIETY in quilting fabric.  I think I used the same calico print in five different colors for this top!  Teresa still gets her blue groove on!!

My grandmother was a very prolific quilter.  The picture above is the only one I know of in our family's photo collection that shows her actually working on a quilt.  There are no pictures of any of her quilts, except for the ones in my possession, the ones I photographed after she passed in 1982.  As much as I hate having MY picture taken, I encourage YOU to appear in some of those pictures with your quilts. 

Using a blank scrapbook allows me to be really brief with some of my pictures and descriptions as well long-winded on other, bigger projects. 

 Can you tell I really LOVED this music fabric line when it came out??  Still do - I wish I had bought a whole bolt of each fabric in the line!  I glued in LOTS of fabric swatches!
Here is the same basic quilt done with some favorite black/white and hot pink fabrics.  God bless me, I LOVE FABRIC!!

Archiving this quilt helped me to remember how I designed the quilt to utilize 288 tiny nine-patch blocks that were SUPPOSED to all be the same size.  I had to come up with a setting that allowed me to use all of them because they were made by friends during a year of swapping, and I wanted to use each and every one!

Archiving this quilt reminds me that other people's color preferences (that I am doubtful of...) can really work in the end...I wasn't at all happy about designing something using the requested colors of the sea (aqua, lime green, blue and purple) and the BRIGHT ORANGE of a Monarch butterfly (it was a beach wedding).  But it worked, and I have the pictures to remind myself after the fact.

The more I start designing my own quilt patterns, it is really important to document the quilts I give away.  I really liked the birds and the hand quilting motif I drew to fill in the background.
 A quilt diary is also a great way to document items that you sell.
Now, for the FUN part!  I want to give away 3 albums, with extra pages, to encourage you to start documenting your own quilt history. Leave a comment on this post on Stash Manicure by midnight, Sunday, February 20 to be eligible to win either a medium size (8.5 x 11 inch) album or a small size (7 x 7 inch) album, both with extra pages.  I will be giving away a large format (12 x 12) album over at my blog, Fabric Therapy so leave a comment there as well by midnight, Sunday, February 20.  Three chances to win...YIPPEE!  Your loved ones will be the ultimate winners as you keep a historic record of your lovely work.
 The small one has a hip, denim cover - very chic!
Keep those needles humming!

In stitches,
Teresa of Fabric Therapy

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Stitching Together...

  Well hello quilters!  It's good to be back here with you.  I'm Jill from Jillily Studio.   It has been a while since I posted, and I know there are many new readers on Stash Manicure, so come join me for some quilting fun!

Recently I talked on my blog about a quilt my daughter was making.

Talia and her blocks
I had tons on inquiries about it, so I thought I could share that with you today.  Talia wanted to make a quilt for  her Valentine. (She is away at college, and came home for the weekend to make a quilt.)
 So she thought she would do a variation of the
"Hugs and Kisses" quilt: 
Hugs and Kisses
from my book, Stitched Together. 

My book from Kansas City Star

First we chose a selection of fabrics.  We "shopped" in my cupboard, and at the store.  You can make this as scrappy as you like.  It's a great one to use a bunch of different fabrics from your stash!

Because we needed it to be bigger than a baby quilt, and faster, we used larger blocks.  That means we could use more pieces and more fabric!

Now here's a quick tutorial for making the quilt.  I know you know how to do this, but I will tell you anyway!  To make one block, start by cutting two squares.  You can use any size--we started with 7" to yield a finished block of 12".

 Place the squares right sides together, draw a diagonal line on the back of one square.  Sew 1/4" away from the line, on both sides.

  Cut the square in half on the line.  Press the new half-square triangles open.  Trim them to 
6  1/2" square.
 Cut small background squares.  We used 3 1/2".  Draw that diagonal line again.  Place a background square right sides together on one corner of the half square triangle.  This time sew right on the line. 
Do that again on the opposite side.  Trim away the excess leaving a seam allowance of 1/4".
 Here's the finished unit.  You will have four of these. 

Here's a few of Talia's leftover blocks to show how the units can be put together.
Arrange the four units like this to make an "O" block.
(This "O" is different from the one in the book--just simpler.)

 Arrange them this way to make your "X" blocks.

 Alternate the "x" and "o" blocks.  Use as many as you like on each row to make the size of quilt you want.  Talia used four across and five down, then added some borders.  Isn't the quilting cute? 

Now remember that trimming we did after we added the corner triangles?  There's a whole new quilt waiting to happen!

Now I have a funny story to tell you.  Talia wanted this quilt to be more masculine, since it is for a guy, but she also wanted all those fun colors.  So she chose brown for the background, and went with
all the colors.  Good choice, don't you think?
When it came time to add the borders she was out of $$$, so she was "shopping" in my sewing room.  I design fabrics for Henry Glass, so I had a few bolts from different lines that were possible choices.  One was a polka dot (from the Elizabeth's Letters collection) and one had
swirly leaves on it (from the Thistledown collection).

  She liked the polka dot.  I was not sure.

"Don't you think polka dots are a little bit girl-y?"  I asked.
"Not as girl-y as those leaves."
"But when was the last time you saw a guy wearing polka dots?"
"When have you seen a guy wearing leaves?!"
                  (Then Andrea, my niece and Talia's roomate at college piped up.)
"You mean besides Adam???"

Nevertheless, the polka dots won out.

And that is the story of one scrappy, happy, Valentine-y quilt.  I can't wait to see what will happen to those left-over pieces!  Maybe next time I post,  I'll have something done with them.
You have a great day now, and be sure to visit me at my site or on my blog.  I love to hear from quilters and will try to help out any way I can.
Happy Quilting!