21 Feb


Travel Europe in QNM

So I guess the publishers are beating down my door after all. My paper-pieced quilt, Travel Europe is featured in the “Quilting Bee” section of the April 2008 issue of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine. I began designing this quilt what seems eons ago, and in 2005 I decided it might be a nice project for other military families like ours, who would like a souvenir of their travels. I completed the quilt and had patterns for each block professionally printed (email me if you’d like one, or the whole set). It’s been a reasonably popular block of the month class at the Arts and Crafts shop on post here as well.

I sent the photo to QNM two or three years ago and in the meantime, my quilting direction has changed dramaticly. This quilt no longer reflects my focus nor the direction in which I am currently working. It’s still nice to have it recognized though.


19 Feb

Schollbrunn ’08

Last weekend’s repeat performance retreat in Schollbrunn was a very productive one despite having the kids along. Mostly, they dragged out their homework, and watched TV. R brought her two girls too, so there was some Monopoly Jr., karaoke, and swimming as well.
Behind the hotel was a very small “Wildpark” with deer and a wild boar and a playground that didn’t rate too high with the kids (have I mentioned that they are allergic to the outdoors?). There must be hunting in the woods too as last time there was a man with his hunting dog sharing our hotel.

I have no idea what these symbols mean

The kids thought this foal was pretty cute though.

Indoors, in addition to individual projects, the others basted 9 quilts (yea big tables and large rooms!), and we finished the Depression block top for our hostess:

G's quilt

I worked on this all weekend:

Quilted Chaoes Challenge

I’ll give up more details in March when it’s done.

18 Feb

Polish Pottery

One of the blogs I enjoy reading is “Posie Gets Cozy.” Alicia’s writing tone, and her projects are so friendly and warm it’s no wonder her blog is so incredibly popular. I know Katja and I are very happy with the St. Lucia Doll Kit we bought from the Posie shop.

Recently, Alicia discovered Polish Pottery and extolled it’s virtues. I couldn’t help but share a small bit of the cupboard-full that I have amassed over the last 10 years or so. You see, as an Army wife living in Germany, it’s law that I must buy the stuff. One is pretty much not allowed to bring a meal to a potluck unless it’s presented in Polish Pottery (the upside is — the table always looks coordinated and great!!). It was a lot easier to fill one’s shelves seven years ago before Poland joined the EU and prices went up, but it’s still far more affordable here than in the US.

Polish Pottery Casseroles and Egg Cups

When we were first stationed in Germany everyone was gah-gah over Polish Pottery. We had plain black dishes from the Crate and Barrel outlet and colorful Bauer pottery from the 1940s. Needless to say, the Polish Pottery didn’t play well with these and I limited myself to buying just a few serving pieces (for potlucks, of course) and gifts for friends and family.

That didn’t stop me from jumping in an old SUV with a friend and her friend (and her friend) near-nine months pregnant with Zavi and heading off to the border town of Boleslawiec. Apparently the other ladies knew my penchant for organization and had placed bets on whether or not I had marked the map with all the hospitals between where we lived in Schweinfurt and the last German town, Bautzen. (I didn’t mark the map, but I probably stopped at most of the bathrooms in the shops we visited.) We stopped at Applebee’s in Dresden for dinner on the way home because that’s what all the Americans do.
Polish Pottery Table setting

Hubby and I returned to The States for 10 months and then moved back to Germany. Knowing that we’d most likely be living in a small apartment with an even smaller kitchen and little storage, we left stuff behind — like the Bauer I didn’t want to risk breaking, and 110 powered appliances we couldn’t use without a bulky transformer. We’d only have room for one set of dishes, but needed more than the eight or fewer place settings of the black ones.  In his infinite wisdom, TS&WGH said “How about we just chuck the black dishes and you go to Poland and get whatever we need for the annual Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas parties we inevitably host.”

This time I jumped in a minivan with several other Polish Pottery shopping veterans. Shopping with vets is the way to go. There’s no hemming and hawing over what to get or not to get, whether to get all the same pattern or to mix and match, or whether the prices will be better in the next shop. We knew what to get where and which shops were a must-see and which we could pass if necessary. This may have been the trip where one lady was shopping for several friends and had a color coded list to guide her. It was definitely the trip where the main driver was making a list of each shop and it’s location (mile mark from the edge of town) for newbies. We visited, and dutifully logged the exact location and nickname of, no less than 23 shops that day in and around Boleslawiec. Applebee’s was now operating under a different name, but the menu was nearly the same. We stopped for a meal of course.
Polish Pottery Cereal Bowls

We’ve since moved further from Poland, the prices have risen, I have two kids to factor into any outing, and I can easily entertain 12 for a sit-down meal, so I haven’t been back to Poland in years. I don’t miss the Applebee’s. I’ve also been privy to the location of the warehouse for one of the vendors that sells high quality pottery at the bazaars on the military posts. I think the warehouse is out in the open now, but five years ago, it was only through word of mouth that you could find them. Their lower prices meant it was cheaper to go there than drive to Poland unless you were in need of a car full of dishes. It’s only an hour away and they not only do they have a bathroom but there’s a good Mexican restaurant nearby. In fact, TS&WGH made a quick stop there on his way home last weekend.

I still don’t have a cheese lady though.

18 Feb

Prairie Points

I had several requests for a Prairie Point tutorial after finishing my “Beat the Blues” quilt with these triangles of folded fabric.
I was going to make some diagrams, but McCalls quilting has already done it very nicely here; About.com has instructions here (be sure to click “next” to see the variations and finishing tips); and of course, Simply Quilts features them here. My quilt has nested prairie points spaced out to enhance their pointy triangle-ness.

Prairie Points on Beat the blues

All of the diagrams and tutorials above (as well as my quilt) use individual squares of fabric so that one can make very scrappy prairie points. If you want to take it even further, sew two rectangles of contrasting fabric together to make your starting square, then fold as for “overlapping prairie points.” The contrasting fabric will peek ever so subtle through the vertical slits in the prairie points! On the other side of the coin, there are also a few speedier, if not as colorful methods. The quickest method is the one presented here by Rowena.

Back in 1996, I clipped this tutorial out of an advertisement for Quilter’s Newsletter, or Quiltmaker, or one of their publications. It shows the method Rowena demo-ed, plus a two color variation.

Easy Prairie Points -- one color

Step 1 says to cut a strip of fabric using this formula: desired height of prairie point + .25 inch x 4. For example, if you want your points to finish 2 inches high, cut your strip 9 inches wide ((2 + .25) x 4 = 9).

The formula is a little different if you want two colored points: cut two strips, each the finished height of the prairie points x 2 + .75 inch; then sew the two strips together lengthwise wrong sides together using a .25 inch seam allowance and press the allowance to one side. I think the rest of the instructions (steps 2 through 5) can be figured out easily enough by following the pictures.

Easy Prairie Points -- two colors

Also helpful is their formula to calculate how many prairie points you need. My formula was to make a lot and then place them around the quilt until it looked right — very scientific! If you want to be more exact the formula for nicely nested or overlapped points is: length of quilt ÷ finished base of prairie point x 2. For example, if your quilt is 90 inches square and your prairie points will be 3 inches on the base (taking away the seam allowance that will be hidden in the seam) you’ll need 60 prairie points for each side (90 ÷ 3 = 30; 30 x 2 = 60). Obviously, you’d calculate sides separately if your quilt is rectangular.

You needn’t use your prairie points just for finishing the edge of you quilts. Here’s points used within the border on the adorable baby quilt my MIL made for Zavi when he was born.

Points on Baby Quilt Border

And here’s points used within the border AND as edging on the bottom of a very “liberated” wall hanging I made ten years ago:

Points in border and as edge finish

Happy Prairie Pointing!!

15 Feb

Big Fish in a Little Pond vs. Little Fish in the Big Sea

Thanks for all the Blue quilt love! Winning was kind of a big fish in a little pond thing, but the challenge is all in fun, and I participated with the same spirit. To give the full spectrum though, I also received two rejection letters from “real” art quilt shows this week. I don’t say this for sympathy; I say it because it’s fact. Most everyone is (rightly) excited to share good news, but reluctant to share the bad, so it often seems that “everyone” is getting into all the shows they ever enter and gallery owners and book publishers are beating down their doors. I suspect that this is not true. I suspect for every win or accepted proposal, there are many rejections. Today, I felt like sharing the bad with the good — keeping it real (and by the way, there are currently no gallery owners or book publishers beating down my door — not that I’d have anything to give them anyways).

I am off this weekend with my fellow American winners and our equally talented German friends for yet another weekend sew-a-thon in Schollbrunn. I’m bringing the kids this time, so I doubt I’ll be as productive, but there’ll be six meals this plus cake and coffee that I don’t have to cook and that in itself makes the trip worthwhile! When I get back I’ll see what kind of prairie point tutorial/link mania I can come up with.

13 Feb

The Americans Take the Top Three

I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but I made Beat The Blues for our local (German) quilt guild’s annual challenge. The theme this year was “traditional,” and the quilt had to incorporate a certain navy blue fabric. I had been admiring Bonnie‘s String Lone Star (scroll down to the big star with the atomic orange background) and as soon as I saw the challenge fabric it said, “I’d be the perfect neutral for a stringy, strippy star.”  Really, it said that to me. If not for the challenge, I would also still be sitting here thinking about how nice it would be to have an actual quilt on my bed. It all came together rather nicely in concept.

Of course, it didn’t come together so nicely in reality. There was the horrific discovery that the diamond template I had used was wrong and nothing fit together the way it was supposed to (if you want to make your own, I’d follow Bonnie’s lead, not mine!). Then there was the small problem of not having quite enough of the blue challenge fabric for the background and there being no more at the store. My quilting wasn’t quite what I had hoped either. However, it all came together in the end and the sum is definitely greater than the parts. After some initial trepidation, I think it looks great on the bed.

Beat the Blues (with a Beige Wedge)

The grand unveiling at the guild meeting was tonight. Three other friends from the every-other-Friday-hand-sewing group I belong to had also made fabulous challenge quilts, as had nine other guild members. It was really hard to decide which quilt to vote on. I’m kind of glad i had my own there to vote for because there were about four of equal merit. K’s Japanese themed crazy quilt panels were fabulously embellished. J’s miniature medallion quilt was to die for, with the tiniest flowers and Lone Star halves. R’s scrappy, shirting fabric squares and triangles suited the fabric the best. There was also a second beautifully made medallion, two more scrappy quilts (the three would have looked great together in a retro look kids’ room with almost matching twin beds), and several log cabin variations that summed up traditional.

When it came down to it, the three Americans in the room took the highest prizes: K won third place, me second, and J first!! We are going to go fabric shopping with our gift certificates next week. Woo hoo! One of the nicest things about the guild is that they recognize all the work that everyone puts in to their challenge pieces, and so everyone who brought a quilt got to take home a bouquet of ivy strung with ribbons and cute little fabric chicks. Just in time to decorate for Spring!

07 Feb


Beat the Blues looks like a finished quilt, doesn’t it?

Star Quilt nearly done

The quilting is finished. It’s nothing terribly complicated, and I can’t say it’s done at a professional level, but it’s just fine for our bed.

Final trapunto (Plan D)

All it needs now is binding. I’ve decided that I would like the quilt to have scrappy prairie points on three sides (friend J warns that prairie points up your nose are not conducive to sleeping). Cutting about a bajillion 4″ squares will, of course, drag this project out a leetle bit longer, but should be worth it. Simplicity is apparently NOT my middle name.

05 Feb

Our Not Fat Tuesday

Today is the annual Faschings Dienstag Parade in our neighboring town. As one radio host said this morning, it’s the day people are knee-deep in confetti and alcohol. I was hoping to share fun stuff like pink cowboys, dancing ice cream, witches, and pesky bakers, but I have been sick since Thursday and haven’t made it much further than the 10 steps from the couch to the computer and back to the couch. Zavi was sick the week before and had a barfing bout Sunday night. Today Katja is sniffly and it’s hard to tell which way she’ll go. I decided all that wasn’t worth a few hours in the wet cold. Faschings Dienstag — I already miss you.