Saturday, February 28, 2009

Review--Marking Tools (Bohin Mechanical Pencil and Allary Chalk Cartridge Set)

When I want to mark quilting designs on my fabric, I absolutely LOVE the Bohin mechanical marking pencil. The “lead” available for the pencil is made of a waxy chalk. It adheres to the fabric long enough to quilt the design, but it is easy to remove when you are finished quilting. The mechanical pencil includes an eraser which actually works to remove the chalk if you make a mistake or change your mind. The chalk refills come in several colors; I know these colors are available—white, gray, green, and yellow (there may be more). This pencil is very easy to mark with making a nice thin (0.9 mm), smooth line on the fabric. The Bohin mechanical pencil costs around $12 with refills costing around $6. The only con I have found is that when the lead gets to be about 1/2 inch long, the pencil won't mark. You can't keep the lead from pushing back up into the barrel when you try to make a mark. I think this is a big waste of lead, and it is very annoying. I'm hoping new models will correct this problem.
I often use the tulle method of marking a design onto my quilt. (Check out my "Tutorials" page. You'll find out how to use tulle to mark a quilt there.) I find the Bohin mechanical pencil is a bit hard to use when marking through the tulle. The tulle tends to break the “lead” in the Bohin marker. For transferring a quilting design using tulle, I like to use the Allary Chalk Cartridge holder. The Allary Chalk Cartridge Set comes with a plastic case which holds eight white refill "leads" and one in each of the following eight colors: flesh, orange, fuchsia, turquoise, green, violet, medium blue and yellow. The holder mechanism and sharpener are included. The cost for this set is between $9-$12. The “leads” for this holder are thicker and make a wider line than that made by the Bohin, and the “lead” point doesn’t last nearly as long as with the Bohin mechanical pencil. However, I find that the “lead” in this marker holds up much better when used in conjunction with the tulle. There are refill packs available for this holder also. The refill includes a plastic case and 16 “leads” (same as in the original set) and costs approximately $7.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Red It Is!--The Feathered Star is Set On Point

This is a picture of the 2009 Block of the Month Quilt from The Quilt Show with the February assignment completed. It is called "Stars for a New Day" and was designed by Sue Garman. (Remember, you can click on the picture to see a close up.) This month I had to set the feathered star on point and surrounded it by little 4-patches and some floater borders. I used the red fabric to set the feathered star on point. (This is the red for which many of you voted.) I used a blue wavy fabric for the floater borders to (hopefully) bring out the blue in the feathered star block. I am pleased with the outcome. Thank you again for your help. Oh, and I have included a picture of the required Sawtooth Stars for this installment. Eight of these 4" stars were assigned this month, but I made some extras while I had the time. These stars will be used in the very last border. I will have to make 72 of these in all!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kids Quilts Are Given/Dog-Quilt Story

I gave my great-nieces and nephew their rag quilts last weekend when I was in Memphis. I thought you might enjoy seeing them with their quilts. They really seemed to enjoy them, and the nephew slept with his the first night he had it. It is so much fun to make quilts for children. I hope they drag them around and play with them till they are thread bare.

My sister, Pam, is the grandmother to these children. Her daughter (my niece, Wendy) had a baby quilt I made her when she was born. Now that quilt was thread bare! Wendy used it when she was a baby, and my sister covered up with it after Wendy was no longer interested in it. I remember being at Pam’s house and begging her to throw it away because it looked SO bad—the appliqu├ęs were hanging off of it. Pam always said they all fought over it in the evenings because it was so soft, and she wouldn’t get rid of it. They had a wiener-dog (Rhoda) that sat on the couch with her each evening. I’m not much of a dog lover (now that is another story) but, I loved Rhoda. She was a great dog. Wendy’s baby quilt became known as Rhoda’s quilt. She was very protective of it, and she wanted to be covered up with it every time she went to sleep. If you didn’t cover her up, she “nosed” it until she was under it. Rhoda had to be put to sleep a couple of years ago. She was wrapped in the quilt when she died. It went with her to her final resting place. What a fitting end to a much loved quilt! I was honored.




Friday, February 20, 2009

New Review! (This time it is a book.)

A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick is a great read. The author says it “was inspired by the real life story of a wonderful and lovely lady.” I initially became interested in this book because of a review in The Country Threads Goat Gazette (a newsletter from Country Threads) by Sandy Anderson. A Single Thread is the touching story of four very different women whose lives become intertwined initially because of quilting. They become very important to each other as the story unfolds. Each of the women has circumstances in their lives that are difficult to deal with—divorce, death of a mother, loss of job, loss of love. They are surprised to find some much needed support from the new friends who came into their lives because of quilting. These women learn to depend on each other and work to make each other’s lives better.

There are lots of quilt-related books that I just can’t get into. They just aren’t “involved enough,” but I loved this book. I am interested in all things quilt related. I use my quilting as “therapy.” Quilting has brought many wonderful friendships into my life; I have met my best friends through quilting. This book parallels that part of my life. I could really relate to the characters and their circumstances. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but (trust me) A Single Thread is well worth the read.

Marie Bostwick, has a website (
www.mariebostwick.com) which has features such as a blog, book excerpts, discussion guides, recipes, tips for writers, photo album, and more. Visitors who register as one of her “Reading Friends” have access to special features, can post in the forum, and are automatically entered in her monthly Reader’s Contest. Her Reading Friends who are also quilters have the opportunity to download a pattern for one of the quilts from the book—the “Broken Hearts Mending” quilt. It was designed by Chris Boersma Smith. You can write Marie to request a downloadable pattern for free! She says she has sewn one herself and will have a picture of it posted on her online photo album. This is only available via computer and only to her registered Reading Friends. What a nice bonus to a great book! I definitely will be looking for other books written by this author.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Really...I Enjoyed It

This is my finished 2008 The Quilt Show Block of the Month quilt top. It is called Bouquets for a New Day and was designed by Sue Garman. (Remember, you can click the picture to see a real close up of the quilt.) A couple of my friends held it up for me, so it is pulled a bit out of shape--sorry, it is the best picture I could manage. I am debating about the quilting. I'm trying to decide whether to hand quilt it or have it machine quilted. I'm really pleased with how it turned out...and really, I did enjoy doing it. I think I might have cussed some (during the piecing--half-square triangle "hell"), but overall I liked doing this quilt top. As most of you know, I'm working on Sue Garman's new block of the month quilt for The Quilt Show called Stars for a New Day. It is all pieced.

I'll be putting up a review of some quilt-related item sometime this week. I haven't made a final decision on what I'll review yet. I have a couple of things in mind, so check back.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Withdrawal

I'm currently in Memphis, Tennessee, visiting my sister and her family. I'm definitely having quilting withdrawal! Have you ever experienced that? (She's a non-quilter.) I brought some hand sewing along--wool circles cut from various sizes and colors of wool to be sewn together with a blanket stitch and eventually stitched to a black background prairie-cloth fabric for a primitive coverlet--but I haven't worked on that because the lighting isn't really good enough. I find that I can't just "sit," so I have been shelling pecans from her pecan trees. I have two bags finished so far. It will be nice to have those to take home with me.

I just wanted to let you know when I'll write up a new blog. I'll be posting again with a picture of my finished 2008 The Quilt Show Block of the Month Quilt (Bouquets for a New Day) on Monday or Tuesday (16th or 17th). I also have a couple to items I want to review. I'll be posting one of those sometime next week too.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

And the Winner Is.....

The winner is (by an overwhelming margin) RED! (Gosh, I didn't know it was that obvious!) The vote was 22-3 in favor of red. Thanks to all of you who helped me with this. Red it is! I'll post a picture of "Stars for a New Day" (The Quilt Show 2009 Block of the Month Quilt by Sue Garman) as soon as I get this "round" finished. For this month, I have to piece eight Ohio Star blocks (that finish to 4"), set the feathered star on point, surround the on-point feathered star with a floater border, construct a border made of on-point 4-patches (that finish to 2"), and put on another floater border. There are 72 of the 4" Ohio Star blocks in the finished quilt, so I have been working on some of those too.

I finished my niece's baby quilt in time to take it with me to Memphis next week. The pattern (Sleep Tight) came from the P.S. I Love You Three! book by Lynda Milligan and Nancy Smith--great book. I embroidered some of the words from Goodnight Moon around the border--"Goodnight Moon," "Goodnight Stars," "Goodnight air," and "Goodnight noises everywhere." I machine quilted it using straight lines and varigated thread in the colored blocks and a small wreath in white thread in the setting blocks. The outside border is stipple quilted and the words are outline quilted with white thread. I pieced the binding out of leftover fabric from colored blocks.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fabric Audition--Please Vote

A part of the newest assignment for the 2009 The Quilt Show Block of the Month Quilt (Stars for a New Day) is to set the feathered star block on point. I can't decide between the blue setting and the red setting. I like them both equally. I'm posting pics of both and asking for your help. Help me decide which fabric to use--blue or red. If you are a member of my quilt guild, email me at my quilt guild address to send your choice. If you are not a member of my quilt guild and don't have an email address for me, I'd still love your input. Leave a comment and let me know which setting color you prefer. Please leave your comment or send me an email before 9 p.m. EST Saturday night (February 7). I'm going to be working on this block Sunday.
I'll post and let you know which setting won.

SewEzi Sewing Table Product Review

I apologize for getting this review in late. I really thought I'd get it in last week, but the snow (and subsequent babysitting) kept me from getting it done. Here it is--"better late than never!"

I have decided to incorporate reviews of some of the products/gadgets/quilting items that I have into my blog. I want to let you know that I am not affiliated with any of the companies that make the products I’m reviewing.


My first review is of the SewEzi table. As you can see from my pictures, it is a portable sewing table. If you take a look at the "close-up" picture, you can see that it creates a nice size flat sewing surface. I have found it to be sturdy and very portable. For me, it has been a wonderful thing to take to retreats, classes, and workshops. It has rubber wheels and two handgrips which make it really easy to transport. It also has a cover that covers the table to protect it when you are moving it or storing it. You can get different inserts for the table (which must be ordered) so your SewEzi table can be set up to fit nearly all commercially available sewing machines. Something I really like about it is that it folds flat for easy storage. It takes up very little room and could easily fit in a small closet or under a bed. I also like the fact that the table is large enough to support my work while I piece or quilt. A clear insert to make the table into a light box is also available for purchase. I don’t have this particular feature, but some of my friends do. They really like it.

When I bought mine, I thought it was a bit pricey. I think, though, it is well worth the money. The table runs around $249 which includes one specific acrylic insert for your machine and the table carrying case. Additional inserts for more sewing machines are available for $40.00 each. You can order the SewEzi table on line, and you can find them at quilt shows (where you can usually save shipping costs and/or get a “show” price). I have an insert for both my Bernina and my Janome sewing machines.

The SewEzi table is a well built very useful product. I set mine up in my living room so I can sew, watch TV, look out my front window, and “visit” with my husband (rather than being isolated back in my sewing room). Take a look at it at the SewEzi site—www.seweziusa.com.

Let me know what you think about it.