Sunday, July 15, 2012

YUMMMMMMMMMM-Y! (And, the cake was good, too)

Yesterday marked the two-year anniversary of the St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild.  In addition to our regular meeting agenda, we kicked things up a notch with FOOD...

I hear that there was cake...  Did anyone get a picture of the cake???


A sampling of fabric goodies from Bon Bon Atelier's Pop-Up shop at yesterday's meeting.

And, SHOTS!  (Thought I was going to say "Friends," didn't you?)

Shot COTTONS, that is...  Luscious shot cottons...

Not to mention, FRIENDS:

2012 St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild - Happy Birthday, Ladies!

Thanks to our NEW friends, Betsy and Emily from Bon Bon Atelier, who so generously lugged half their shop with them from Kansas City (in laundry baskets) to help us celebrate the day!

Betsy and Emily from Bon Bon Atelier, a great little shop in Kansas City...  Thanks,  Ladies!

Here's to another great year of food, fabric, shots and friends!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The One Where Everybody Finds Out

Remember that Friends episode when Joey finds out that Monica and Chandler are... uh...  NOT doing laundry together?  And then Monica and Chandler find out that Joey knows, but he's not allowed to tell anybody?  And then Rachel and Phoebe find out and tell Joey that they know, but he's not allowed to tell Monica and Chandler that they know?   And then somebody uses the sentence:  "Yes, but they don't know that we know that they know that we know?"

Welcome to our quilting bee.

You press your seams to the SIDE?

Not that any of us Lou Bee ladies are participating in any nefarious non-laundry activities (as far as I know...  I'm always the last to hear about these things...), but we HAVE had secret projects of late, and it's been relatively tough to keep them all quiet.

First, there was the house quilt.  At a recent Sew-In of the STLMQG, it was secretly decided that our friend Mary Claire needed a quilt.  She and her daughter would be selling their house and moving soon, and we wanted to make sure that wherever they'd land next, they'd always feel at home, so the ladies of the Meet-Me-in-Saint-Lou Bee (Lou Bee for short) stitched into action.  We quickly created a secret Flickr account [House Quilt for Mary Claire (Shhh...  It's a secret)] and set off in search of architectural inspiration.

I had already spotted this great print by Jenn Ski a few weeks prior on Etsy.  I loved the mid-mod feel of the house and e-mailed her for permission to use it as inspiration for my block.  She not only agreed, but said it sounded like a fun project and that she couldn't wait to see it. SUPER COOL and generous of her.  (I promptly went out and bought a few jelly rolls of her new line, Ten Little Things, as a show of gratitude...  If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check it out. Very cute stuff).

Here's my (unintentionally wonky) version of her masterpiece:

My block.
I used some Anna Maria Horner and Denyse Schmidt as major players (two of MC's favorites), but also added some Kate Spain and a little Sweetwater for good measure.  The chimney's a tad crooked (Santa's gonna need some serious scoliosis to get down that puppy), but considering it was the first time I'd ever paper pieced anything, and had to make up the pattern myself, I'm pretty happy with the results.

Check out the rest of our "neighborhood," courtesy of the talented Lou Bee ladies.

Juli Ann's block (happylifedesigns):

Juli Ann's block.
Wish you could see this block in person.  It is pristinely pieced.  Juli Ann is our resident artist/perfectionist.  Those Ruby roof shingles line up perfectly.  She even quilted and bound the final product despite a herniated disc in her neck!  (To quote Joey Tribbiani:  "Is this friendship? I think sooooo-oh!")

Jessica's block (jessimama):

Jessica's block.

I love this block!  Jessica says she was going for a "candy house in the woods" vibe, but I'm thinking ski chalet myself.  Makes me want to curl up next to the fire with a plate full of microwave s'mores.  (I grew up in the city and like to save my carbon for nanotubes, not marshmallows).  Add a jaunty little zig-zag of smoke from the chimney?  Perfection!

Cara's block (me? a mom?):

Cara's block.

So citrusy and fun.  Notice the little touches of cherished Heather Ross?  Priceless.

Laura's block (x.o. madewithlove):

Laura's block.

Both Laura's family and Mary Claire's are big fans of the Kung Fu Panda movies, so Laura whipped up her own Kung Fu palace for MC's quilt.  Love how the little "eyelashes" (for lack of a better term) curl up at the corners.  Sk'doosh!

Jamie's block (Sunflower Seeds):

Jamie's the youngest in our little circle of friends, and a brand-new "Hexy-Mama" to Baby Jared, one of our adorable "auxiliary members" who lunch with us on occasion.  Here she shared a few of her precious hexies, and a beloved kitty cat (or two):  the one you see appliqued here, and the one whose dander gave me a last-minute panic attack when I realized MC was deathly allergic to cats! "To Mary Claire, from your dear friends:  A quilt, and an EpiPen."  Thankfully, Juli Ann graciously washed the quilt when it was all finished, and everyone is breathing easier.

Kristy's blocks (St. Louis Folk Victorian):

Kristy's block (1 of 2).
Kristy, our president and founder, donated not one but TWO blocks toward the cause.  The first, a wee cottage, a study in "seeds."  The second, a double-decker cutie with Marigold Circles from Metro Living on each level. (Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the second, but you should check it out on the finished product below).  Kristy was pinch-hitting for our good friend Grace, who's had a pretty busy time of things lately.  Thanks to Kristy, she got to be a special part of our gift, too.  Miss you Miss Grace.  Hope to see you soon.  

In addition to donating a house block, it was also my job to piece the quilt front and back, and to try to tie our individual blocks together with a center square of some kind.  After kicking around a few different ideas, I finally got inspired by the work of tattoo artist Tiffany Harvey.  (Considering I won't even write a phone number on my hand, this was complete happenstance).  I had come across Tiffany's word art on Flickr using the search term "hearts and names" (I'm nothing if not original).  After paging through 20-30 of her individual designs and sketching some rough rough drafts, I finally got to this:

Original sketch for center block.

Which eventually turned into this:

Center block applique pieces, ready to fuse.

And finally resulted in this:

Center block for MC's house quilt.

Put it all together, and you have our Meet-Me-in-Saint-Lou Bee neighborhood quilt:

Pieced top for MC's house quilt.

With the front finished, it was time to tackle the back.  I had originally planned an entire back in Lou Lou Thi Summer Totem in grapefruit.  When the fabric arrived, I was so smitten by the beautiful pattern that I couldn't bring myself to haphazardly join two pieces together.  I decided to match up the pattern by overlapping the repeats and joining them together for a seamless transition.  (Well, nearly seamless...  There was one spot that was a little off...):


Unfortunately, when you join panels this way, your seam allowance becomes this large, unwieldy, asymmetric chunk of fabric.  When I went to trim it down, I measured it, and measured it again, taking care to fold the fabric I wanted to keep off and to the left, and the chunk I wanted to lose off and to the right.  Somehow-- and I'm still not clear on how this happened-- one swipe of the rotary blade hacked off 18 inches of perfectly joined backing.  (?!?)  I nearly threw up.  All of this on the day I was scheduled to pass everything off to Juli Ann for quilting.  We cancelled our rendezvous, and I took the backing up to my local quilt store, the Quilted Garden, to confer with Jenice, our resident expert.  As I'm standing at the counter discussing what to do next, WHO of ALL people walks in the door but Mary Claire, the intended giftee!  Jenice's eyes nearly bugged out of her head as she deftly swept the backing off the glass and back behind the counter.

Now, I love Mary Claire.  I do.  She's smart, funny, and I could talk to her for days (and have, actually, on several occasions).  But that afternoon, I really needed to get back to my machine.  Alas, they use only see-through bags at Jenice's shop, and there was NO WAY for us to sneak five+ yards of LouLouThi-- which, incidentally, she doesn't sell in her shop-- past Mary Claire's keenly-tuned AMH radar.  Miraculously, Jenice somehow conjoured an opaque, blue bag out of the ether and sent me on my way.  

There were a few other backing mishaps along the way (including a puddle of unknown liquid on my kitchen floor), but after pulling some fabrics from the stash, and a quick trip through the washer, I eventually managed to finish it up:

Salvaged back of MC's quilt.

I pieced together a quick, coordinating binding and set off to meet Juli Ann at our rendezvous point (the local JoAnn's parking lot...  We're nothing if not original).  :)

All this time, as the Lou Bee gals had been planning and plotting for Mary Claire, another surprise was brewing in the wings.  Our friend Laura, of the Kung Fu block above, is expecting her third little one this month.  We were excited to stitch up some handmade goodies for her, but with all of the preparation underway for MC's surprise in June, were kind of leaning toward our July meeting to celebrate.  We set up a second secret Flickr account for Laura's shower, only to have Mary Claire suggest that June might be better, lest Laura go into labor early and we miss our chance.  (!?!)  SO...  Laura knew we were surprising Mary Claire at the June meeting.  Mary Claire knew we were surprising Laura at the June meeting.  And the rest of us knew that unless the June meeting arrived quickly, one of us was surely going to post the right pic to the wrong group and we'd blow the whole thing!

In the midst of all the craziness, I did manage to piece together a quilted growth chart similar to one I spotted on Craft Gossip not long ago.   Laura's signature colors are aqua and grey, so I pulled a load from my stash and fired up the rotary cutter.

Fabrics pulled for Laura's growth chart.
Little bits to get me started.

Straight-line quilting serves a purpose, every vertical inch for easy measuring.

Mama Laura and Baby Bird.

The final dimensions of the growth chart are 12" wide by 72" tall.  The blocks along the column should finish at 1" square so that you can use the horizontal quilting lines to easily measure baby's height and then enscript/embroider the data at each milestone.  I guess once baby hits 6-foot-1, he's on his own!  :)                                       

The day of our June meeting finally arrived, and I'm happy to report that Laura was surprised, Mary Claire was floored, and the rest of us were out-of-our-mind relieved that we could finally post a non-private photo to Flickr again because there were NO. MORE. SECRETS!

At least, for now.  ;)

How you doin'?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ring around the sun

If you were outside in St. Louis this weekend, you likely caught a glimpse of an atmospheric phenomenon known as an "icebow," or ring around the sun.  I decided to use my design wall to mark the occasion using my first-round goodies from the Flickr Modern Siggy Swap.

With Round 2 blocks heading my way later this summer, this version is just like the icebow: fleeting, but pretty while it lasts.


... Out.       (Photo borrowed from NewsChannel 5,

Round 2 starts this weekend.  It's not too late to sign up!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Not in Kansas anymore

To say that I don't get out much is a euphemism. I tend to stay home. Partly because I get lost. (More often than not, actually). Partly because I panic. When we built our house in Mansfield, the neighbors stopped by to welcome us with a plate of cookies. I couldn't answer the door. It isn't that I don't like people. On the contrary, I'm fascinated. I just function better with one at a time. More than that, and I prefer to observe them from afar, in their natural habitat. Like Marlin Perkins, with a (slightly) thinner mustache.  

When I learned that our guild would co-host the Modern Meet-Up at Market this spring, it never occurred to me to go along. But as the strain of the semester stretched my nerves into taut, pulsating fibers, all I could think was, "Mama needs some alone time." Coach, noting the return of the left-eye twitch, offered to send me to Kansas City for the weekend. A welcome and much-needed break, but me?  Travel alone? A 5-hour drive along miles of desolate interstate fraught with construction and detours (and banjo-pickin' hoarders keen to add my '97 Lumina to their backyard scrap-metal heap)?!?  No, might be best to let Amtrak do the driving.    

Best. Decision. EVER.

I travel in style:  Forenza hoodie, Fashion Gal, circa 1987.

SOOO relaxing. Coach sprang for business class, so I had a window seat to myself. All the lulling rhythm of air travel, no plummet-from-the-sky. Napped a bit. Wrote a bit. Napped a bit more. Five hours of bliss. I got to KC, and paid a cabbie ten dollars to drive me to my hotel (which, it turned out, was actually ATTACHED to the train station).

View from my room.  See that snake-like, glass tube?  Yeah...  Leads right to the train station.     
I checked into my suite and met my friend Kristy for a fantastic cheeseburger dinner.  I brought along a little something I'd whipped up for our trip. (Didn't want to be the only ones in town without lanyards):

(I'd also printed up some "networking cards," as Kristy called them, but seeing as I had neither products nor services to offer, kept them in my pocket the whole weekend).

Wild child that I am, I fell into bed before 10 o'clock (first time in decades, I think).  Got a GREAT night's sleep, a nice, long shower, then headed to Lawrence to shop for fabric. Without a doubt, the highlight of the trip!

Sarah's Fabrics in Lawrence, KS (known henceforth and forevermore as "Fabric Mecca").  ;) 

Now, I'm not really one to name-drop, but Kristy and I ran into a few fancy-pants while we were there.

Miss Anna (can you spot the bolts of Good Folks?):


Lotta, David and Denyse:

Also, Heather:



Did I mention the Kokka?  Echino?

Or, the load of organics?

This is just a smattering of what was there, but these were some of my favorites. Truly. An enormous store, with loads of modern fabric:  flannel, velveteen, corduroy, laminate, voile, linen, lawn, and pretty much every print EVER released by Kaffe Fassett. A few of these beauties may have found their way back to the hotel with me that night:

A few of my new fancy-pants friends.

After a quick wardrobe change, we picked up a pile of sponsor donations and left for the Meet-Up. Together with the ladies from the KC guild, we worked to fill goodie bags and set out door prizes. As luck would have it, I was asked to serve as the first greeter of the evening, which entailed standing downstairs at the lobby entrance and directing folks up the escalator, from our original location in the lounge to the gigantic ballroom to which we'd been switched. (Something about a breach of firecode from the evening before???  Rowdy modern quilters, you...

Now, while I'm not really one to name-drop, I did happen to see Anna Maria Horner in the lobby that night, as well as a few folks I recognized at the party: 

Elizabeth, Lotta, Julie, Katy, Tula, Amy, David, Melody, Jacquie...  I'm sure there were loads more whose faces I failed to recognize, but I'm not really one to invade personal space sufficiently enough to read a name tag in 12-point font, so I mainly people-watched most of the evening.  It was fun (and surreal) to see so many famous-to-us faces.

I brought a few goodies home that night, too.  Full charm packs of Kona's new colors, Cotton Couture by Michael Miller, and Bella, the new line by Lotta Jansdotter (gifted by the folks at Windham Fabrics):

My new favorite solids:  Cotton Couture by Michael Miller...  Wish you could FEEL this!

Given the rainbow of fabric I collected over the weekend, my official souvenirs for this trip seem to pale in comparison. We hit a great antique shop before leaving Lawrence. Kristy found an AMAZING vintage quilt, and I bought these little bits for inspiration. The license plate is rusty and bland, but hanging in my sewing room, it reminds me to be brave, to venture out and try new things.

The card is postmarked April 1st, 1943.  April Fool's Day, smack in the middle of World War II.  The sender writes on a windy Thursday morning to thank Rose for a package of books.  Her garden is plowed (four rows of potatoes), and her muscles are sore.  She calls on Ethel (a neighbor? friend?) who "expects to go to the hospital any time and needs her mother."  Wilmer writes well of camp food and Navy life.  His arms are sore from shots.  Beulah has come to visit, and the Haley boy is in Storemont Hospital.   An ordinary day in an ordinary life.

The card is my reminder to JUST. WRITE.  You never know where your words may lead you.