I often claim to have a Quilting "Hobby" in attempts to hide my obsession with fabric and color.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No more training wheels!

After an amazing weekend at the Vermont Quilt Festival (will post more on that later!), we started our second week into summer break. If you can call this summer. Rain....rain....wait, more RAIN.....And then today, when it looked pointless to think of anything else, I look outside and there goes Becca on the neighbors bike, WITH NO TRAINING WHEELS!
For everyone current, and those not, Becca has once again showed her true nature. After mastering the trainer (no peddles), we were sure she was ready for that "big girl bike" last summer. But one look at the training wheels and it was like all her confidence went out the door. And then at the beginning of this spring, she discovered one was loose and decided she wouldn't even try it again....sigh. 
So imagine my surprise, to look out the window, and see her zooming by, with no help! Good old Becca...waits forever to do something, and then up and does it like it's last years news!
So here she is, on her bike, no trainers, looking at me like I'm crazy for wanting her picture.

Friday, June 24, 2011


So I would really appreciate some feedback on this one.

Every quilter has something about the process they don't like or are not as strong at. Cutting, picking fabrics, deciding how to quilt the top, pressing seams....mine is basting. I hate it, and it hates me. It is a critical step in the process, especially for hand quilting because if it isn't done right, your top shifts, you get wrinkles in the backing, and worse.

I have tried several methods, and one the one I like the best is pinning with huge safety pins. I have tried running stitches, and the punch gun thing. But what is driving me nuts is that I can fuss and smooth, and banish all living creatures from coming near the work, smooth out the batting and pin the top on, and pick it up....and there's a huge wrinkle going up the middle or some pucker, or whatever. I work on a large carpeted area so masking tape is out. I have tried pinning the backing to the floor first....

Any ideas or tips? PLEASE???? I would love to hear what other quilters do. Tips of the trade, hints, etc.

I understand many have had problems with leaving comments, so feel free to email me at
 jospaena@gmail.com and I will re-post them for all to share.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Oh, for the love of Batik's

As I mentioned before, my mother is guilty of getting me hooked on Batik's. I have not fallen prey to the Civil War Reproduction Prints, or the 30's prints, but Batik's....

I think that my passion (obsession???) for fabrics is carefully hidden behind my quilting hobby. A fabric store is my venus fly trap. I cannot just go in to look, or just for one thing of thread. Nope, not happening. And help me if there is a sale!

Back to topic though, this is the quilt I made from Island/Thai Batik's. It is a modified 4 patch/rail block. Another wonderful pattern found in my favorite "Quilts and More"

It's hand quilted with a varigated blue-green thread in a 4 tulip pattern centered on each 12 inch block. I think I was a bit  overwhelmed by the intensity of the fabrics and not confident enough to use a darker thread to make thee quilting stand out more.

In all, this is my largest project to date, as it's roughly 100 x 100 inches. Nice for cold winter nights watching tv with a quilt in progress on your lap, but summer months....hence why this was almost a year in the making!

 ***For anyone NOT familiar with this publication, it is a quarterly magazine by Better Homes and Gardens~ well worth a peek!***

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Past Lap Quilts

Well, here's the real reason I started this blog. To share my quilts. I have spent a lot of time reading books, magazines, and other people's website. And it seems like everything else in the world, there are hundreds of thoughts on the same topic. Some say you shouldn't use flannel for backing, or always match your thread material to your fabric content. What batting to use, which way to stitch a quilt. And what I have found is.....it's all personal choice.

This first quilt is based off the basic tumbler block. I decided to experiment, and ultimately used a rotary cutter and found an angle I liked. Great way to use up some of those funky prints from the stash....

I scalloped the two edges and straight finished the other two. Hand stitched in the ditch with a clear thread.

And finished with some print I had in the "big bin". This is where I keep the larger yardage cuts. Who knows when or even what I bought that fabric for, but it worked out nicely.

Another quilt I made freehand what this square/paired rectangle quilt. I miscounted the squares I would need so instead of eliminating an entire row, I decided to be quirky and make it with notched corners.

Quilted mid row on a wave again with a clear thread, and backed with a pale lemon flannel. This is a quilt that is always on the couch!

And finally (for this post), a goofy little quilt I made from my mother's scraps. She is the reason for my new found passion for Batiks. It's all her fault- that's my story and Im sticking to it! She made a beautiful stained glass quilt and sent me home with all her drops. I couldn't resist the colors but had no idea what I would do with them.

I saw a pattern in one of my favorite magazines "Quilts and More" and thought that it would make a nice adaptation, but after fudging around with the yardage, I realized the only thing the quilt and the pattern had in common was the cuts. This was one of the first times I hand stitched a quilt in a white thread and didn't follow either the seams (in the ditch) or a pattern. Instead, I stitched squares on the point. It's a little odd, but again, for a lap quilt, it works. Backed with a gorgeous Brain Coral Batik out of the Big Bin, it's a nice eclectic quilt. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


So on a non-quilt note, we have a new family member!

She came to us via one of my best friend Ann. She was rescued by another woman along with 6 three week old kittens in a box. The vet thinks our Lilly is somewhere around 12-15 weeks. We are all smitten with her, though Moon seems to think we had enough cats before.  Maggie and Lilly sleep up in our room at night, and seem to be getting along well. Lilly is a motorboat and loves to chase her tail, especially once we turn the lights out for the night.

But who can resist the antics of a kitten?

"Rob's Quilt"

This is the quilt I made for our great friend Rob. He calls himself our "Genuine West Virginian Hillbilly Family". He is someone that Brian and I have known for years from Gaming, and the kids adore him. He lives near Pittsburg, PA. We go to visit when we can and have seen some amazing sites, including the Carnegie Museum, The Children's Science Museum, and of course, KENNYWOOD!!!
Jelly Roll Quilts: The Perfect Guide to Making the Most of the Latest Strip Rolls [Book]

I found this quilt in the book
and just knew it was the perfect pattern for him . His favorite color is blue, and having plenty in my stash, the only trick was limiting my choices.  This book is not only a great book for quilters who like using pre-cut fabric, but for those looking for ways to reduce that stash of larger cuts. I am hoping to get a strip cutter for my birthday, because lets be honest.....cutting lots of strips is BORING!

I did a very basic diagonal hand stitch over the design in a medium blue thread. I was surprised and very pleased with the optical effect it had on the front giving the sashing squares a slight twinkle in places.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Background before going forward.

So one thing I have learned over the years is that the only way you grow is by pushing outside your comfort level. That's one of the reasons I made this blog. My hopes are that I will not only have a way to reconnect with friends and family but that I will meet new people and learn new things. I keep thinking of joining my local fabric stores guild, but I think that I am "too young", "too inexperienced", and "that I can't possibly bring anything new to the table". Translation....I have no confidence.
I started quilting almost 20 years ago. I had a great motivator (thanks Judy!) who showed me that any fabric, no matter how ugly, could be made into a quilt. Notice I did not say the quilt would NOT be ugly. My first quilt was UGLY. ugly ugly ugly. Wrong colors, bad stitching, ugh. I won't even post a picture, though I will admit I still have it.
Then I discovered a pattern in Good Housekeeping. How to make "Trip Around the World" in one weekend. Everyone knows that pattern, right? The beautiful thing was, it used HUGE squares in a strip technique and a bed sheet for the backing. And you TIED it! How cool? Yeah, I made about 8 of those and gave them to everyone I could think of. I hadn't learned a nice binding yet, and well, batting is batting, right? But we all learn somewhere. I still have 3 of them....one the dog tried to eat, one the kids use outside, and one I made when I moved to Vermont (by then, I was doing much better on fabric selections, binding, and backing fabrics).
Over time, I ventured away from big box fabric stores and into the world of higher end fabric. Quilting magazines, websites galore, who knew what you could do!!!! And then I was hooked. I became a real quilter. One with 6 UFO's, multiple "I have to make this next!" patterns flagged, and let's not talk about my stash. But still, when I look at those beautiful magazines, I see other peoples work spaces and I think, "I'm still such an novice!"
But always learning, I realize, it's not how many machines you have, how many yards are in your stash, how many quilts you've made, or who you know. It's all about how much you love doing it. And I love it. Even when I'm complaining about the amount of pressing, or piecing, or whatever....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rita's Quilt

So, be patient as I get this site up and running. I thought I would start by showing a quilt that was so outside my comfort level that it ended up being a real gem! I first saw the pattern in the Summer 06 edition of Quilts and More. It is called "Calypso". They showed it with a more traditional fabric scheme. I thought that it would be a good opportunity for me to try out some of those loud and crazy prints that you see in the fabric store. You know, the one's you can't make into clothing, or put anywhere in your house because they don't match anything?

So here it is. A crazy floral print and then 6 tonals that pull the colors from the floral. It was so bright and cheery. I thought it would make a great cuddle quilt so I used a beige flannel for backing, and a simple hand quilted design to keep the eyes focus on the prints.
My mother-in-law saw it as I was quilting it and commented on how much she liked the colors....hence the new name "Rita's Quilt".