Sunday, July 26, 2009

"Blogging for Bliss" and Let's Build a Snowman

I really enjoy blogging. I guess I'm not very talkative in person, but I have a lot to say. I've enjoyed pushing myself in the last year and a half to learn new things--uploading pictures, linking, making slideshows, etc. But I'm wanting to learn more. So on Friday, I discovered the book Blogging for Bliss, by Tara Frey, on Amazon, available Aug. 4. I surfed over to Tara's blog and found out that it was already out. I found out my B&N had a copy and zoomed over to get it. I read it cover to cover in a few hours. WOW! It's a great book with lots of information that I was looking for. Seven chapters of info are interspersed with descriptions of other blogs and their creative owners...and these bloggers reference their favoite blogs. I'm now going page by page to see these blogs. What a treasure! If you enjoy blogging or reading blogs, check it out--Blogging for Bliss. Let me know what you think.

I promised you a sneak peek of our newest pattern. It is the cutest snowman quilt ever--and you don't need to get wet and cold to build it. If you start it now you will have it ready just in time for colder weather.

Isn't it great? Makes me smile every time I see it, but then, I'm not the one who had to kit it. Let's Build a Snowman will be available in 3 different ways--a complete kit for the top, a Row of the Month option, and pattern only. Click here for more information. I will be posting tips on the blog to go along with the Row of the Month (similar to Happy Halloween entries). I can't wait to get started.

Well, I'm off to make dinner, a little more blog surfing and looking into classes for photography and html!

Happy surfing to you, too!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rocky Mountain Quilt Fever-A Celebration of Stars

Yeah! It's almost time for the Denver area's 10th shop hop--A Celebration of Stars--to honor our customers, who truly are our stars. To make it extra special we designed a gorgeous batik with columbines, aspen leaves, pinecones, and pine needles.

Each shop chose a star pattern and then the blocks were set into a giant Rolling Star, that features the specially designed fabric. The hoppers will buy kits to make up the Rolling Star portion of the quilt and then each of the participating 8 stores designed different finishing kits. This is our (Great American Quilt Factory's) quilt. It finishes to approx. 77' square. It is beautiful!

We also have 5 additional colorways of the featured fabric. These fabrics are exclusive to our shops.

Rocky Mountain Quilt Fever Shop Hop is August 7, 8, and 9th. See more information and download the passport on our website.

We hope to see you hopping,
Lynda and Nancy

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Artifacts by Possibilities for Quilting Treasures

Our new fabric line from Quilting Treasures is now in stores. Artifacts features soft, stylized imagery reminiscent of native motifs in soothing colors of turquoise, green, lavender and purple. This beautiful, sophisticated group lends itself to art-to-wear as well as accessories and quilts.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Artifacts
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We think it is a very beautiful line and can't wait to share some projects with you!
Happy Stitching,
Lynda and Nancy

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

American White Pelicans

It has only been the last few years that I have seen white pelicans in the Denver area. They arrive in late Spring and stay for awhile before heading North. I saw this flock a month or so ago. They are huge with incredible wing spans. I think they are terrific!
They reminded me of this poem, possibly by Ogden Nash or Dixon Lanier Merritt--there is some dispute.

A wonderful bird is a pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week;
But I'm damned if I see how the helican.
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Have a great day!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy Halloween Blog of the Month-Part 4

Hello again, Halloween friends,

I'm sorry that I'm a bit late this month in posting the blog, but June went by soooo fast! June is the end of our fiscal year here at Great American Quilt Factory (which means lots of extra bookwork and inventory counting) and we've been blessed with having our son Barry and his two great kids, Ellen and Neil, visiting for a couple of weeks.

Well, we're on month 4 and October is just 3 months away. I hope you are able to keep up, but if not, these lessons will be here for a long, long, time. Just click on the Halloween Blog of the Month icon on the right side of the blog and bring up all of the lessons. You will find them in the newest to oldest order, so scroll down to the first lesson you missed and work up from there.

Our three applique blocks this month are Death, Cat, and Werewolf. I, once again, sprayed and ironed the background fabrics with spray starch to stiffen them so they would act as a stabilizer. I used my lined white fabric for all of the eyes, teeth, white collars, and scythe blade. If werewolf's face is much lighter than his hair, you might need to line it also.

Again, build small sections on your Applique Presser Sheet before combining the pieces together. For Death, build 2 sections: eyes, eyelids, nose, and hood, face, cloak. After fusing these sections together, use the placement guide to fuse them into place. Mark all detail lines. I used my Sewline black pencil and a sunny window to see the lines. Fuse Death to the 2nd to the lightest background.

For Cat, build 2 sections: eyes, eyelids, nose, and shirt, collar, BOO. After fusing the sections together, use the placement guide to fuse them into place. Mark the detail lines. (The yellow or white Sewline pencil or refills are perfect for marking Cat's mouth and whiskers.) Fuse Cat to the 2nd to the darkest background.

For Werewolf, build 3 sections: eyes, eyelids, nose, and shirt, collar, tie, and face, hair, ears. Mark the detail lines and fuse Werewolf to the lightest background.

For the stitching, I started with Death, the easiest. The stitching order I used for Death:
  1. Inside of hood
  2. Outside of hood
  3. Right and left collar
  4. Scythe blade
  5. Scythe handle
  6. Eyes, eyelids
  7. Nose

Each eye, eyelid, and nose combination seems to need a little different treatment. Trace the stitching path with your finger to see what works best. For example, for Death, I stitched his left eye first, from the top of the lid around to the nose. Next, I stitched his right eye from the right side of his nose, across the lid and down to the top of his nose. The bottom edge of his eyelids came next, and finally his nose.
The stitching order I used for Cat:
  1. Shoulders
  2. Arms
  3. Left and right side of head
  4. Collar
  5. Eyes and eyelids
  6. Nose
  7. 2nd "O"
  8. 1st "O"
  9. "B"

For Cat's eyes and nose, I stitched them in the same order as Death's.
Werewolf was my most challenging block yet. He is not that hard, but I seemed to forget everything I have learned so far--just so you know, you will never see the backside of this block. : )
Here is my stitching order:
  1. Right and left ear
  2. Face
  3. Hair
  4. Shirt
  5. Collar
  6. Tie
  7. Eyes and eyelids
  8. Nose
  9. Teeth

For the eye section, I first stitched the inner side of his right eyeball, and then from the right side of his nose around the right eyelid. I then stitched his left eye from the top of his nose around to the left side of his nose. Next, the bottom of the eyelid, and finally his nose.
**As I was explaining this I realized that I stitched his eyes just opposite from the pattern--just goes to show you that there is more than one way to do anything. : )**
There are at least two ways to stitch the detail lines. For the heavier lines, such as the mouths, I'm going to use a very tiny, very close zigzag stitch. I would suggest that you put together some practice squares that are similar to your block--two layers of fabric with or without the fusible in between (since I cut away most of the fusible, I folded a square of fabric together and ironed it with several coats of spray starch, like I do for my backgrounds). I experimented on a scrap of fabric until I had a stitch that I liked. Choose the zigzag stitch on your machine, needle down position if you have one, and have the same thread on the top and in the bobbin.
The settings on my Bernina that worked best was with the zigzag slightly less than 1 and the stitch length just 2-3 bars above zero. This made a stitch that was no wider than 1/16 or about the width you get with a chalk pencil. Stitch steadily, but not too fast. As you go around curves, pivot on the outside edge of the curve so that you don't get gaps in the stitching. Make sure that you have enough thread in the top and bottom so that you don't run out--it is very hard to match your previous stitching--guess how I know?

Some of the detail lines are not as bold as the mouth stitching, such as Witch's scar and Mummy's bandages. For these lines, use a regular straight stitch and stitch across the same lines 2 times. This takes some practice and a steady stitch. See the right side of my practice piece.
Below is a closeup of Werewolf's mouth.

If you are not happy with your practice stitches, you can always hand embroider the detail lines.

Yeah! We are coming right along. Next month we will work on the last applique block--Mummy and applique the Happy Halloween panel. Have you chosen your backing fabric? We have a terrific selection of Halloween fabric in the store and some of it is online.
Please comment if you are enjoying this blog of the month concept and/or if you have any questions or ideas for another blog of the month. I am really enjoying bringing it to you.

Nancy and I leave Tuesday to teach and lecture at two guilds in Southern California. We plan on visiting some quilt shops along the way. I plan on bringing you more inspiration.
Happy stitching,