Quilting is my Therapy, too.

Angela has a familiar sounding blog title; I’m not sure I know a quilter that hasn’t used the phrase, or at least agrees with it!  Quilting is my therapy, and quilt retreats are the best form of that therapy!  Last weekend was spent with seven lovely bloggers in Waite Park, MN, at Grubers Quilt Shop Retreat Center.  This is our third Summer retreat, and each year Day 1 is just like a reunion of old forever friends.  I am blessed, and honored, to call them friends.  Here we are just before heading home on Sunday (standing in front of Terri’s lovely patchwork):

back row, l to r:  Me, Michelle, Rene, Terri, Mary

front row, l to r:  Cindy, Amanda, Stephanie

Most of the people I know don’t understand why I enjoy quilt retreats; and I’ve never found a good way to explain it to a non-quilter.  But maybe visually, with a few shots of our sewing space, I can make it a little easier to comprehend.

Sewing and quilting can be a very solitary activity, lots of quiet time for introspection, relaxation, contemplation.  But at retreat–cutting, piecing and sewing is surrounded by a flurry of conversation, laughter, shared obsessions; room to spread out with our sewing machines, iPads, laptops, etc., play together and inspire each other:

I borrowed this pic from Stephanie, because it is a great shot of the space, the table, and of Rene!

In a room full of bloggers, you’re bound to see some blog reading, writing, emailing, and texting going on…

Last year, we started a practice of exchanging happies (Rene explained the origin of “happies” in this post), no one is expected to give happies, but if you want to, they are always received with open arms.  Last year I was not on the ball, I did not give happies.  But this year I arrived the evening before everyone else, so I used the extra time to make each of my friends a vinyl zipper bag to hold sewing and quilting notions:

And what they look like inside:

I’m trying to decide if I should write a tutorial for those bags… what do you think?

and (OH, my!) the happies I received:

  • A mini-trash-bucket made by Amanda (at the top of the photo);
  • Lucy’s Crab Shack sachets made by Stephanie, along with a copy of The Quilted Fish book she is featured in!
  •  A zipper bag made by Terri from her own Spoonflower designed fabric!
  • A Mardi Gras themed FQ and “therapy in session” door sign from Michelle;
  • Gourmet chocolates and FQs from Rene, each representing part of where she calls home.

I brought home plenty of things I “treated” myself to in the way of fabric, as well as an autographed copy of Amanda’s book, Sunday Morning Quilts.  Such talented friends–thank you all!!!  We already have next year’s July retreat booked.

  • Do you go to quilt retreats?  Have a favorite you return to over and over?
  • Does your family or group of friends have a tradition or practice similar to the Harper family practice of giving happies?

Creative Clips-Leap Week

Last weekend I attended a quilt retreat, approximately 80 miles from home.  I went Friday and stayed until noon on Saturday, and I only accomplished one thing: cutting out the rest of the pieces for my Candied Hexagons quilt:

and those pieces look like such a small pile, but it isn’t small at all.  There are at least 18 half blocks, and 30 full hexagon blocks represented in that photo.  Lots of tedious cutting, using Mari Michell Templates (set H) and a Clover 28mm Rotary Cutter.  I spent much of my Grubers retreat weekend last July cutting pieces for this quilt, too.  It’s probably best I didn’t keep track of the hours (cutting or hand-piecing), it is by far my most time consuming quilt to date.

I brought this home, along with a borrowed Go! Cutter, to make another, far less time consuming hexagon quilt!

I bought a few end-of-the-bolt goodies at the shop that hosted the retreat, and she had a buy one-get one free book sale, so….  

You can probably tell by my photos here that I have yet to read that top book (HA!), and I’ve already made a project from the bottom book (blog post coming tomorrow!!).  Both of these had been on my Amazon wishlist for a while, so I couldn’t resist the BOGO special.

What else have I been doing this week?  Getting to know my new acquaintance…

I think we’re going to be great friends.

January 2012 Sew-In

Our group at Sew-In by artistdoris
Our group at Sew-In, a photo by artistdoris on Flickr. 
(Back l-r; Emily, Sherry, Jill M, Penny, Doris, Jill G, Linda H–front l-r; Crystal, Marny, Beth)

Friday evening and Saturday I spent with these lovely ladies at our first Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild Sew-In/Retreat.  We found a converted 1918 Church building that now serves as the Waukee Arts Center to house our two days of sewing; great lighting and lots of space:

We had a few more registered to come that couldn’t make it, but ten of us got together to haul in a few tables, ironing boards and irons, and a design wall, and just spend an evening and a day sewing, collaborating, learning from each other, and most importantly, getting to know each other better!  What a talented and fun group…

Jill M made two baby quilts, start to finish and sent them off to her sister on Monday via FedEx!  TWO BABY QUILTS in ONE weekend!  

This pick Jill took on her swing set at home, borrowed from her blog

Jill G and Marny, of Modern Quilt Relish fame, made a new version of their “Bowtie Pasta with a Twist” pattern.  It was fun to watch them work together and chat with them while we sewed.  

Linda worked on these fabulous paper pieced Circle of Geese blocks, check out her post for her layout!

Linda gave us all (even those of us who have quilted for YEARS) a lesson on how to row piece by creating a web and then sewing your rows into columns (unbelievably easy, and yet, none of us had ever tried it!!!)

New-ish quilters Emily and Crystal were fast learners and each finished baby quilt tops using her method.

There was a lot of chain piecing, lots of rearranging on the design wall, a trip out for lunch, lots of sharing, laughing, and planning.  Overall, a relaxing and fun time!

Here is a shot of what I worked on (not quite finished here), and I’m going to write up a pattern for it, so stay tuned to this space for more on that…
Readers, you know how I love a retreat– now only 25 more days until my next sewing retreat!!!

Happy sewing,

Noah’s Guitar

I promised you a quilt post today — but even better — it’s a FINISH post!  I started this baby quilt in September 2010 (intended for baby Noah, who was then 2 months old) at a retreat.  When I unpacked after retreat, I put it neatly in a crate in my quilt studio until I could work on it again.  I went to work on it about three weeks later… and could not find the fabric or blocks I had started–anywhere!!  It remained lost for several months until one day I was looking for a particular stabilizer for a bag project, I pulled some out of a crate in my quilt studio, and lo! and behold!  The entire project was right where I left it. 

I finished the top at my retreat a few weeks ago, and I made the back there, but when I started basting the quilt layers at home, I realized the back was about a half an inch too narrow.  urgh!  Well, this was one cool quilt back, so I wasn’t about to replace it with something else…so I sliced it lengthwise, and inserted a 3″ strip of leftover fabric into the back:

I chose the Groovy Guitar fabric, because Noah is part of a family of musicians.  His grandmother provided the music for our wedding ceremony, his Daddy was in a local rock band, and also provides music at Church… Noah will probably know how to play a guitar by the time he turns 3 — a musically themed quilt was inevitable.  To quilt it, I started by quilting the large guitar applique from the back, in raw-edge applique and echo quilting…

As I continued quilting, I had lots of help.  This is Kato, who will put up with anything to be close to his people…

He eventually got pushed away tired and left, and then Maggy came by (to take advantage of the fresh quilt, not to be close to her person)

A little while later, I laid it on the floor to remove some of the basting pins, and I turned my back for three seconds… (he’s pretending to be asleep so I won’t disturb him)

Eventually I was able to finish the quilting, which turned out great, the guitar that is quilted from the back shows up from the front as contrast quilting, surrounded by medium sized stipple quilting:

And the square-in-a-square border and inner borders are quilted with straight line quilting:

No need to make a label, I just used the guitar opening to write my label on:

I always give myself a deadline on finishing baby quilts–the child’s first birthday.  Noah will turn 1 on Thursday.  I gifted it to him yesterday (but I was only three days early because I had it in my head that he was born on the 25th), happy mistake on my part…

This has to be one of my favorite quilts.  Ever. 

For more Summer Fair Quilts (and recipes!) go here:

Gifties, happies, and goodies

The gals I retreated with last weekend are a generous bunch.  Many brought gifts, what Michelle and Rene define as “happies”, a concept handed down from their momma.  And a great concept it is!  I brought home a lot more stuff than I left with (but, of course, there was some shopping invloved, too!)

Stephanie drove all the way from Kalamazoo, MI to sew with us, and she brought us fresh picked Michigan blueberries, a blueberry batik FQ, and Michigan Mix trail mix from the berry farm.  Yum!  I think she earned her invite back for next year’s retreat… (just kidding, Stephanie!  You know I love ya!) 

Cindy brought us patterns she has designed, and glass pendants that her husband creates (I’m wearing mine right now!), Shelly brought cowboy FQs and a cute cowboy card that says “I never met a quilter I didn’t like!”.  I don’t think I’ve ever met a cowboy I didn’t like, either, but I digress.  Rene gave us an envelope of charm squares, the cutest little quilty buttons, and a pair of quilt earrings from the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative. That pendant in the middle is a necklace I bought for myself as a birthday gift, its’ made by Michigan artist Robin Goodfellow.  I bought a set of postcards at Ikea that truly seemed quilt inspired, and I just could not resist!  Toni gave me my birthday gift, which included a Gruber’s Quilt Shop gift certificate, that adorable vintage photo birthday card and the sewing pattern blank book (that girl does know what I like!)  And those two tea towels at the right I picked up at Target–too cute to resist!  If I missed anyone’s happies, I apologize…I loved every last one!

Now, for the fabric I brought home with me…

Gruber’s Quilt Shop was directly across the parking lot from where we slept and sewed… perhaps a little too convenient from the perspective of one’s pocketbook.  Stephanie explained the make up and the geography of the retreat center very well here.

On the way to Waite Park/St. Cloud, we hit Calico Hutch in Hayward, MN:

  • purchase 3 FQs

Ikea in Bloomington, MN:

  • purchase: set of 5 postcards, cutting table towel rack

Then in Waite Park:
Grubers (two separate visits):

  • on visit #1, scoped out what I would come back and spend my money on!
  • purchased 6 yards on visit #2 (including those awesome laminated bicycles for my new cutting table cover!!)
  • purchased 4 yards with my birthday gift certificate on visit #3

Briar Patch Gift Shop (next door to Grubers):

  • purchased Robin Goodfellow necklace for myself

Old Time Antiques (next door to retreat center):

  • purchased a vintage feedsack apron

On the way home, stopped at Quilted Treasures in Rogers, MN:

  • purchased a Art Gallery Fabrics bundle at 30% off
  • purchased the June issue of Quiltmania magazine–awesome!
  • purchased 4 more yards of “couldn’t live with out it fabric”

It’s a good thing I haven’t been buying much fabric or quilting related stuff this year!  I made up for it in one weekend!

Retreat Recap

I find it impossible to put into words what three days at this retreat last weekend meant to me, and did for me.  But, I’ll try with photos, and just a few meaningful words.

Ten woman from eight different states… a mix of backgrounds, personalities, likes and dislikes…but with one common thread–we all love to quilt!  The perfect recipe for a perfect weekend.  Three of us are celebrating July birthdays, so Amanda brought the “cake”…  They were very tasty!

From California, Cindy…who came this year never having met any of us in person.  She fit in like the perfect peg!  She travels with Bonnie, her trusty green Singer Featherweight, and she had us all drooling over her Sherbet Pips Flowering Snowballs!

Mary just drives down the road to meet us in St. Cloud, and she might just be my favorite grandma!  She brought several beautiful show-and-tell projects, the Birdie Stitches WIP, her Schnibbles zig-zag runner, and the schnibbles shown below.  She spent her weekend making major progress on a beautiful Single Girl Quilt:

I, too, have a Featherweight that often heads to retreat with me, but she stayed home this time and my trusty Bernina made the trip instead.  I finished a baby quilt top (started in October t another retreat, and then “lost” for awhile–now it is found, assembled and ready to be quilted!), and spent the majority of the weekend cutting pieces for my Candied Hexagons Quilt.

Rene joined us again this year, by way of her summer vacation in Big Sky country… She worked on a second Peace Sign quilt with some gorgeous Amy Butler prints, and showed us a lovely solid work in progress, as well as her son’s graduation quilt.

Rene also brought along her sister this year, Michelle, a brand-new blogger, who joined us all the way from Georgia.  She is so sweet and so humble and probably quilts better than most of us after just one year.  But she has a great teacher in her big sister.

Shelly shared part of her long drive from Missouri this year with Toni and I, and we were so glad to have her in the truck!  She’s the sweetest cowgal you’ll ever meet… and one heck of a quilter.  She brought along a patriotic log cabin that was what she sewed on last year, and worked on two more WIPs this year… We are very happy that she thinks we are worth her nine hour (one way!) trip!

Stephanie joined us for the first time this year…  Michigan Mama Pea of “peas in a pod” blog fame– 😉 brought along her daughter’s bed quilt, a gorgeous purple, green and pink medallion star quilt.  As one of her roomies, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of her sleeping under it Sunday morning!  I failed to take a picture of the beautiful batik quilt top she finished, or her other WIPs, but she was a busy girl!

Last year, I invited Terri to join the fun, she and I have been blog buddies since we first started blogging three years ago.  I’m so glad she came again this year!  She’s a busy full-time art student these days, so sewing time is even more precious to her.  She basted a quilt or two, made some mini quilts, started a beautiful maverick star medallion that apparently I never snapped a photo of, and probably more I am forgetting to mention!

Busy mom, Toni (who gave up on her blog to focus on her family) kept us all in stitches as usual, and made some great progress on a sunshine quilt she is making for her SIL.  She also kept Shelly and I laughing on our road trip to and from Grubers!

Amanda worked tirelessly to finish a quilt top for a wedding gift…  made of sumptious autumn colored solids.  She also brought her hand applique quilt that she started here last year to show us the completed top (so pretty!)

Despite all of our talking and laughing, trips across the parking lot to shop at Grubers (just one more time!), and eating, we really did get a lot of work done.  The lights burned into the early morning hours… and no one really slept in.  Of course, the time to say good-bye came all too soon, and none of us wanted to waste a second more of our precious time together by sleeping!  A girl can always sleep after she gets back home, right?

Until next time, ladies!  Love you all!