Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sharing more quilts!

It's time to share a couple more quilts -- they are on their way to Quilts of Compassion to be part of their distribution to tornado victims in Nebraska, August 12 through 18.

I made this quilt during the "testing" phase while writing my pattern, Seasonal Medallion.  Stupid name, but cool design. 
This is the back -- it was made from one of those "sacred" stacks that was living on the top shelf of my fabric stash -- you know what those are, don't you?  "looking for the perfect pattern" stacks? 
This is a retired teaching sample made with Marti Michell's Multi-size Kite Ruler.  If you have the tool, the pattern for the block is included in the instruction leaflet that comes with the tool.
The color combination was inspired by the floral print seen here and it's very simply quilted. Keeping the quilting simple is one of my best strategies for getting quilts finished.  It really cuts down on the "intimidation" factor for me!
I only had one yard of the floral and you are seeing every bit of it in this overall picture!!  When I first laid out the finished blocks, I noticed the potential of creating a churn dash block by using a cornerstone in the sashing and extended it out into the border. 
It feels good to pass these quilts along to other folks -- they are too nice to live in a pile on my guest bed!!  They need to be snuggled!!

How do you share your quilts?  Leave me a comment and on Saturday, 8/9/2014, I'll give away a copy of the pattern -- Seasonal Medallion!

Mary Huey

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Monarch Feeding Frenzy

Back in the fostering enclosure, the Monarch caterpillars are giving us a run for the money.  There are currently five feasting on the milkweed stalks and it doesn't take long for them to strip them clean!!
The feeding caterpillars I have right now all hatched the same day and you can see they are getting to a good size -- about 2" long.
Are these two arguing about who gets to finish off this leaf? 
Before lunch.
After lunch.
This morning, two more have moved up to the top to begin the transformation to a chrysalis -- it seems to take about 24 hours.  I expect the last 3 to follow suit by the end of the day.
Then the top of the enclosure will be bejeweled with 9 of these gems.
Out in the milkweed patch, I've been keeping an eye on the spider nest -- the babies are growing -- they are now twice the size they were when I first found them, but the adult is no longer on the same stalk.  Really, they are bigger.
And I discover this amorous pair -- Milkweed Longhorn Beetles.  There are 8 species of this beetle in North American.  According to my little guide book, they are just coming into their season -- being more prevalent in August.  The adults feed on the tips of the leaves -- just like the picture?!? 
And I think the lightening bugs are having a good summer -- cool and wet might be their favorite weather.  I found this one hanging out until dusk when lightening bugs come into their own.  Did you know the adults don't eat?
Thanks to my friend, Carol, who also fosters for helping my daughter Alison keep them fed while I was off teaching and relaxing last week.  Alison released our first one a week ago today -- hopefully he/she is off making more Monarchs who will be destined to make the big migration south.

If you are enjoying this series on fostering the Monarchs, I hope you will let a few more weeds grow in your yard to provide food for caterpillars of butterfly species.  It's all well and good to plant nectaring plants for butterflies, but those plants aren't necessarily caterpillar food -- each species has specific plants it needs.  I let the violets overrun some of my flower beds to provide food for fritillaries and I've just planted service berry which I hope will attract red-spotted purple.  There is fennel and dill for the swallowtails.  Wild cherry and tulip trees host other species.  Here is a link to a site that lists a number of host plants for caterpillars -- check it out and inventory your neighborhood.  Then add some plants to your garden to expand the potential!  There's more to loving butterflies than just admiring them.

I hope the sun is shining in your part of the world!

Mary Huey

Here are links to my previous two posts about this adventure!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to home base!

I'm back from a relaxing week at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.  Most of today will be devoted to unpacking and putting everything away, doing the laundry and catching up on business.

I'll miss the lovely surroundings and the friendly people but most of all I will miss my class!  Each afternoon, I spent 2 hours working with a lovely group of fifteen women from all over the United States.  My class was titled Women and Quilts Moving Westward.  
During the class sessions we hand stitched a set of Album (or Chimney Sweep) blocks which were commonly used as signature blocks in Friendship Quilts during the mid-1800's.  In addition, I shared experiences gleaned from reading women's diaries and journals of that period which invariable led to discussions about what it must have been like to be a woman and a wife during an era when men's opinions and goals dominated American domestic life.  
We also tried our hands at creating an applique motif without someone else's pattern to copy.  These are my six blocks and my two attempts at freehand cutting.  It's easy to tell the lower one is a leaf (oak, perhaps), but not so easy to tell the upper one is a "tulip" tree leaf -- I'm thinking it looks more like a turtle?   Or a reject?
I also shared an antique top I own from the fourth quarter of the 1800's using the same block design.
I can't recall how I acquired it -- did someone give it to me or did I purchase it?  I should quilt it because it looks wonderful spread out on a bed.
It is completely hand-pieced -- even the borders were added by hand though it does seem to be two or three batches of muslin and two different women's work.
And there are some terrific fabrics in this quilt top.  Just look!!

But this one was everyone's favorite without exception!

Last evening, we had the BIG SIREN alert for a tornado watch.  That was a new experience for me.  I don't recall ever hearing the sirens for anything other than the monthly test.  Tornados are rare in this region of Ohio.  Fortunately, we didn't experience more than wind and rain but it was truly unsettling.  I did find myself wondering if there was anything I should take to the basement with me other than my cat.  In the end I just took the cat, but this week I'll be packing up two quilts to send off to Quilts of Compassion for their trip to the Nebraska , 8/12 through 8/18 -- they still need 750 quilts!  If you have a UFO top that could be finished and sent off to them, they will be so grateful.  The easiest way to find all the pertinent information is their FACEBOOK page, Quilts of Compassion!  Remember, there's nothing like a deadline!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Another Log Cabin interpretation and a FABRIC GIVE AWAY!

Recently I shared a Log Cabin quilt that used a traditional quilt block as the setting design.  I thought you might enjoy seeing another version using the same concept.  A friend/student, Laura, gave this quilt top to me a few years ago.  Isn't it great?  She made this 4-patch basket with a very special group of fabrics and when she was clearing out some of her UFQ's, the sly fox gave it to me.  (Yes, it's on my UFQ list of unquilted tops). 
 Here's a closer look at the six color ways of this lovely floral print from King's Road Imports that
was released in the late 1990's. 
I carried all six of them in my shop for a very particular reason.
That's my name!! 
 And it's not referring to one of the other 57 Mary Huey's in the USA -- it's me!!
The blue and yellow color way was my favorite and the best seller overall.

This cheerful color way matches the original painting of the design which the printer used to set up the production.  I have the painting framed and hanging in my studio.
I chose the design from King's Road's library of designs which they buy from independent artists who specialize in textile design.  I might have been ahead of my time with this aqua?
Then I spent a stressful week figuring out six different color schemes with a Pantone fan of every color available for printing fabric.  Each color way used seventeen different chips between the colors and their shades and tints.
It was my first and last foray into "fabric" on that level.  It was exciting and I'm glad I did it, but the pressure of coming up with something that would sell well convinced me to stay with selling fabric in my shop a while longer! 

This was the bomb of the group -- during the couple years after the print was released, this was the one that was on my clearance table as well as some other shops I visited.  I still have a hunk of it and think it would work great with the current variety of grays on the market.
This is the sixth color way -- it didn't do very well either but it's the one that I have in a finished quilt.  I must have been trying to convince quilters to invest in it.
The master plan of the day was to make six small quilts out of the six color ways and keep them to give to my six grandchildren.  See how far I got . . . . . .
. . . . . a stack of 5 quilt tops on my UFQ "ready-to-quilt" shelf.   Since I have two grandchildren,  there isn't much pressure.  Maybe I'll quilt them this fall?

There is also a jacket made using the orange/green color way and an assortment of prints from that season's line. 
It's no ordinary jacket!!  I created the "fabric" by tearing strips, weaving them together, and stitching them to a base with miles of thread.  The fabric was then washed and dried and sent off to an amazing designer/dressmaker who specialized in wedding dresses. 
He created the fitted jacket design with a scalloped hemline and it was executed by his staff -- those handmade roses are made from one of the cottons I used and "cover" the large snaps down the front and embellish the sleeves and the pockets.   
It's too small for me, so it hangs in my closet and I get it out and gaze (sadly) at it every now and then.  It's for sale -- seems a crime to have such a beautiful jacket living in a closet.  If it catches your fancy, contact me at and we'll talk! 

Well, that was a fun reminiscence!  

Thanks for visiting today!!

Mary Huey

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Diversions from Quilting?

It's July and the largest currant bush known to mankind is heavy with another bumper crop of red currants. 
I love these tart little red gems.  I have some fuzzy childhood memories about them -- not very sharp pictures -- but there were currant bushes and currant jelly way back there in the landlady, Miss Hunt's garden on River Street.
So every day, I go out there and pick currants for 30 minutes.  To try and pick over the entire bush in one day would do me in, so steady does it!
Our black lab, Coal, prefers shady places and has discovered a spot under the south side of the bush where he keeps me company.  My cat, Willie curls up on the opposite side.
I lift up the netting which keeps the birds off until I harvested all I can use and slip the berries off their stems into a bucket sitting at my feet.
I enjoy the sunshine and think about this and that and slowly the bucket fills up.  I'm happy to glean 2 to 3 cups a day.  Some will be used right away and some frozen for the winter months.  I make jelly.  I make jam by mixing them with sour cherries or red raspberries.  I use them in muffins and pancakes.
But today, this bunch is destined for a currant torte!!  A cookie like crust topped with currants that are folded into a sweet meringue -- mmmmm! 
How are you diverted from quilting during the summer months?

Mary Huey

Monday, July 21, 2014

The benefits of trimming!

This week, I teaching a hand-piecing workshop while enjoying a week at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York.  It's Week Five of the annual summer program series and the theme is The American West.

In 1852, my great, great, great grandfather Jared Fox, left Wisconsin and traveled to Oregon in a wagon train to explore the possibilities of opening a new mill.  It didn't work out for him and 18 months later he returned home, but he left the legacy to all of his descendants of a "overland journal". 

As American History has been expanded to include the day-to-day social aspects of our culture, many journals and diaries of similar journeys have come to light.  I've been interested in these since reading my copy of Jared Fox's journal over 35 years ago.  The stories that can be gleaned from the writings of the women making overland journeys during the mid-1800's is very different from those of men.

I've blended together stories and excepts from those women's journals and their histories to use as a backdrop for this workshop.  We are making a set of six blocks -- some quilters call it the Album block and others the Chimney Sweep.  It was a popular "friendship" block during the mid-1800's and it's a easy block with minimal critical matching necessary.

Once the block is cut, it only takes about an hour to do the stitching.  I used Electric Quilt to draft the block from one of my antique quilt tops.   Because the pieces of the block lay on the diagonal, the measurements don't convert to any of Marti Michell's templates which is what I use most of the time.

Therefore, I used Electric Quilt to print out "rotary cutting instructions" for the block and went to work pre-cutting kits for my students -- aren't they lucky?
Obviously, the rectangles and squares needed are easily cut -- thank goodness there were no 1/8" increments on those!!  One strip of a dark or medium fabric is enough to cut all the pieces needed for one 10" block.

The triangles for the sides of the blocks are cut from a large square as follows.
Cut the squares on both diagonals -- this keeps the straight of grain on the outside edges of the blocks and prevents distortion. 
I'm addicted to trimming the pointy corners of these triangles off before I stitch -- they fit in place easier, the points don't get sucked into the needle hole of my sewing machine throat plate and it eliminates seam bulk which is helpful in so many ways. 
That's when I pull out Marti's handy Deluxe Corner Trimmer and Hand Piecing Aid.  It's an odd looking creature but we never have to cut all the way around it.  Each of the six corners is a different angle.
I used the 45 degree corner which is designed to trim the points off any size right-angle triangle or 45 degree diamond (think 8-pointed star).  I love having the benefits of the pre-trimmed corners even when I'm not using the templates! 
A thorough instruction booklet comes with the tool that shows you how to use every aspect of it whether you are right-handed or left-handed.  (Marti always includes instructions for lefties.) 
Once I've cut my square on both diagonals, I slide them apart enough so that I can work around the group and trim off the points -- size isn't a factor because that tool will always match up to every corner of every 45 degree triangle.

The corners triangles were a different cut -- smaller square and only cut on one diagonal.  Again this keeps the outer edges of the blocks on the straight (not-stretchy) grain. 
Slid the triangles apart carefully and trim off the points.  I'm working with 4 layers of fabric, so each triangle you see is actually a stack of 4 triangles. 
Here are the triangles stacked up for one block -- 12 for the sides and 4 for the corners. 
Here is the 120 degree corner of the tool laying on top of a hexagon -- notice the small holes drilled through the tool at regular intervals.  When I'm using the "set-in piecing simplified" technique, I can use the one right at the corner to mark my "stop" dot.  When I'm hand-piecing, I can make a row of dots 1/4" from the cut edges to guide me across my stitching line.  
Now I've laid it on a 60 degree diamond -- when I'm rotary cutting these diamonds without a template, I use the tool to trim off the points of the diamonds and also to mark a "stop" dot for my set-in piecing. 
It's a great tool!!  If you are reluctant to try to templates, this tool gives you some of the benefits and is worth trying out because it's so versatile and easy to use.

My students are from all over the United States.  Every afternoon, we are gathering together to get acquainted while we stitch together our blocks and contemplate the challenges of traveling overland in a wagon train, working hard to keep a family safe and healthy.

Mary Huey