I’m Back

Hello everyone… Well, it’s been quite a while since my last blog post — six months actually.

I stopped blogging when I left to go to China, Tibet and Hong Kong back in September 2012. I had every intention of blogging when I came home, because I was filled with lots of inspiration–however I just never got around to it.

We had a wonderful tour guide in China named “Mr. Lee”. Ironically most of our guides had astoundingly English sounding names. Of course, I’m sure they have beautiful Chinese names. They probably just got tired of correcting mispronouncing tourists.

One of the things that really stood out for me during our trip was how the Chinese government blocks a lot of the Internet from the citizens. I quickly discovered there was no Facebook, no WordPress–and these are tools that I use on a pretty much daily basis in my creative life.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve actually done quite a bit of quilting for customers. Since the first of the year, I kept a few slots for myself and I’m proud to say that I have quilted four of my own quilts since then. Three of them are bound and finished. The fourth one is just waiting for me to decide if I’m going to do straight edges or a scalloped or wavy edge. Once I decide, I can go ahead and trim the quilt, put the binding on it and it will be done. It’s actually destined to be my next show or museum quilt.

I’ve finished the scrappy trip around the world quilt which I’ve blogged about before. It’s a glorious riot of color, and it made a good dent in my scrap bins. I will get a picture posted one of these days on my blog so that you can see it. I’ve also made another quilt top out of my scraps, using the technique of the “Jelly Roll Race” which you can find by searching on the Internet. It was a really fun project.

Today, my next quilting customer stopped by to drop off her quilt top, and select backing fabric, threads and quilting design. It really is a luxury when I can meet with a customer face-to-face in my studio because then I have access to my quilts as samples to show threads and colors, and also to show designs stored on my computer from my library of possible designs.

Now that those choices have all been made by the customer, I am ready to get started and get that quilt done.

I hope to finish it before I leave on my next adventure. I won’t tell you where yet… but I do hope to return very inspired… and ready to blog!

Happy Quilting,
Fellow Quilter,
Brian Clements

Awesome August

Hello Everyone,
Today, I’m taking a break from customer quilting and quilting one of my MANY UFO’s.  It is a pattern called “Butterfly Kisses” by Nancy Davis Murty.  Her blog is located at http://nancymurty.typepad.com/ and this is the third of her quilts that I have pieced.  I’ve also done “Harvest Home” and “Harvest Spice”.  It is quilting out beautifully with a pattern called “Butterfly Fantasy”.  Pretty cool, eh?
As you may know, I finished the 256th block for my taupe quilt, “Blue Ridge Beauty” on August 8th.  What a great birthday gift…  On that day I turned 47 years old, and although I didn’t plan this out… my birthday was the 47th consecutive day I have worked on my quilting projects in a row.  I am amazed at the amount of work that I’ve been able to accomplish during this time.
After working so hard on those 256 blocks, I’m ready to give that project a break for a few days.  So, I decided to work on my “Scrappy Trip Around the World”.   This project is one that I’m making from my scrap bins, but cutting 2.5 inch strips from scraps, and some small pieces from my stash to round out the color selections.
ImageHere is a photo of one of my scrap bins.  I actually have about 5 of these.  One is for selvedges, another is for leftover binding strips, one is for small strips to use for locker hooking, and two others hold random pieces that are left over from various projects.  I try not to return odd size pieces to my main stash, which consists of 26 elfa drawers like the one in this picture.
My main stash is sorted by colors, and neatly folded, unlike the scrap bin.
In the class I recently took, I was reminded that the scraps are also worth $10/yard, so it got me set on a course to use some of them for something nice.  This scrappy quilt is super easy to make, and is a riot of color… which of course, I love.
ImageSo, probably the part I don’t want to do is to pull out the fabrics and iron them flat.
{Notice my cool iron…  It’s the Oliso Pro iron.  It has legs and stands up on it’s own.  I’ve always ended up dropping my iron off my table at some point until I discovered this brand.  What I like about the Pro model is it’s 30 minute shut-off time.  It stays hot while I piece and press, piece and press…  Awesome.  If you’d like one too, let me know.  I sell them at Fellow Quilter.}

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Next I stack up my pressed scraps.  I usually can cut 8 layers with my giganto 60mm rotary cutter… but you might want to try 4 to 6 layers.  I use this Charming Strip Buster ruler for this task.  It’s 5 inches wide, and marked only for 2.5 inch strips, and 5 inch squares.  (You know the ones… just like the popular charm packs put out by many fabric manufacturers these days.)  But today, I’m making strips, so that’s what I’ll show.

 

ImageSo this is how the strips look after you cut them.  They are random lengths.  But for this project, I only need 15 inches, but I’ll cut them 16″ to have a bit of wiggle room in my strip sets.  There is no need to waste much time sewing strip sets longer than I need.

 

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Now, I’ve got a huge pile of strips, ready to be sewn into sets of six.  No color planning is allowed.  If that is hard for you to do… you would need to put the strips in a brown bag, and pull them out as you sew.  The beauty of this block is the random aspect.Image

Sew them together into pairs, and press.  Sew two pairs together and press.  Sew a pair to that set, and you’ll have your six strip units.  Remember, they need to measure at least 15 inches!  They will look like this…  You’ll get one 12″ finished block from each strip set.  Make as many as you need.  Be careful, this is addictive!

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Well, that is where I’m at…  sewing strip sets, and quilting my own quilt.  WOO HOO!  Thanks for following my blog, and I hope my progress is inspiring you to try something new, or just work on one of your own UFO’s…  Leave a comment here, and tell me and my readers what you’ve been up to…

Have a great day!

Fellow Quilter,

Brian Clements

A Week of Progress

Hello Everyone,

Some of the 512 half-square triangle units

I’ve been keeping up with my new commitment to sewing/quilting every day.  I have been diligently working on my blocks for the Blue Ridge Beauty that I started at a class in mid-June.  I’ve decided to make the central portion of the quilt about one-third larger to accommodate the king-size beds we have in our home.  Soooo…. I need to make 256 of these pieced blocks.  That meant I needed to make 512 half-square triangle units, and 512 4-patch units.  I did the half-square triangles first, and I’ve had them ready for a couple of weeks.

In the process of pressing the 512 4-patch blocks

I started making the four-patches by sewing two strips together.  I cut all of this quilt out of some fat quarter collections that have been gracing my stash for several years.  They are awesome… part of the Daiwabo taupe collections that are so popular right now.  Since they began as fat quarters, the strips were only 20ish inches long.  This allowed me to create a very scrappy combination of 4-patches.  Then I cut the sewn strips into sections equal to the original strip width.  Once this was done, I paired up random units, to create the four-patches.  It seems like I’ve been making them for quite a while.  Alas, they are finished.

Now, I take two half-square units and two four-patches to make a block.  Then another, and another….   Right now, I’ve got 103 blocks done, of the 256…  Oh boy!  I must say, I love the way this is turning out.  I did have one scare along the way… I think I was going to run out of fabric….   Hard to believe, looking at my stash.  I almost called the store where I purchased this fabric, hoping they might still have some more.  Then I told myself to go look again in the stash.  I found two fat-quarters that blend in perfectly with the collection.  See, it does pay to buy fabric ahead!

Annie B Oxygen S&W in machine

I’m also working on my customer quilts this week.  It’s really fun to be challenged to work on a variety of projects.  I’ve quilted two stack-and-whack quilts for my good friend, Annie B.  The first one, made of a poppy print was set off nicely with a brilliant green stripe fabric that she used for her sashings.  I forgot to photograph it, so you’ll have to go to her blog on www.highplainsquilting.com and perhaps she’ll upload something.

Her second quilt used the “oxygen” fabric line.  It really has such great movement to the blocks, and Anne Bright recently released a terrific edge to edge design called Alexis that seems to have been made for this one particular quilt.  Thanks Anne Bright!!!  If you look closely, you’ll see that Annie B. ingeniously pieced her backing, using her leftovers from the project, and making the quilt a i beauty.

Next, I quilted a quilt top for Mark, who lives near to the Aurora theater where 12 people lost their lives last Friday.  Needless to say, I called him right away.  After a few hours, I hadn’t heard back from him, so I texted him.   Fortunately, he texted right back to say he was okay.  Thank goodness for that.’

What is interesting about Mark’s quilt, is that the quilt top is made entirely of seersucker fabrics in white, blue, grey and black stripes.  I pride myself i

n choosing designs to complement the quilt, and this quilt kept saying “nautical” to me.  I found a really cool sailboat with a star on the sail in a pattern by Ellen Munnich.  I called Mark, and he thought that sounded good…. plus he said I always choose well.  Thanks for the compliment!!!

Joan Schmidt’s One Block Wonder

Look How Well

Well, that’s what I’m up to.  What are you working on?  Leave a comment and let me and my readers know….

Happy Quilting,

Fellow Quilter,

Brian Clements

Perseverance

Hello Everyone…

Recently I’ve been thinking about perseverance.  It all started when I turned in a listing of my works in process to my guild friend, Penny Heldermann.  We have a little contest every year, and the purpose is to keep up working on the projects that we have going.  I hate to admit this, but, my list was over 50 items long.  It sounds pretty daunting when I think about it.  This list includes all the projects that are in varying states in and around my studio.  Several of them are quilt tops, completely pieced, and ready for quilting.  If only I had a longarm… oh wait… I do.  I should work one of my own into the mix once in a while.

Some of the other projects are awaiting borders, and some are just barely started.  I love to start new projects…  I think it’s about the most exciting part.  You get to choose fabrics, maybe even some shopping is in order.  Then you take the first cut.  It’s really fun.  The momentum carries you for a while, and then something else crops up.  Maybe it’s something else in life that is very important, or maybe it’s a matter of losing interest in the project, but for whatever reason, the project becomes dormant.

There are many quilts that I’ve started, and been so into the project that I couldn’t stay away, and the project went from zero to hero in a quick time.  I love those projects!  My award winning embroidery quilt was one of those projects.  From the time I discovered the pattern and bought the fabric and threads in Ohio, I couldn’t wait to get home to my machine and get started.  I worked on that quilt every day for many months.  It was soooooo worth it!

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3rd Place in the Machine Embroidery category at MQS2010!

Since Quilts of the Plains last month, I’ve made a change in my style.  I have worked on my projects every day.  I’m spending my time working some of my UFO’s into a more finished state, and it’s making me very happy.  The urge to find something new is pretty strong, so I find my mind wanders once in a while to…. “maybe I should try that…” or “it would be fun to go to the quilt shop”… but I’m holding that urge at bay.

I’ve had some great successes.  I have been working on a gorgeous new quilt that will be for our bedroom.  It has 768 flying geese blocks that are 1″ x 2”.  My new attitude allowed me to persevere, and the quilt top center is now complete, including the alternating squares and triangles.  I need to measure for and cut the border strips, and that is high on the list of my sewing goals.

Also, I have been piecing half-square triangles for another quilt.  It needed 512 of them.  Oh boy!  Check.  Done.  Now I’m working on the 512 4-patch blocks that go with.  Maybe I’ve got 100 or so done… but it’s getting there.  I’ve had to be out of town 10 days since Quilts of the Plains, and I made a point to make a to-go box of my project.  I’ve drawn the diagonal lines on the squares to get ready to sew the triangles.  I squared up the triangles another day at a hotel.  I cut and pressed fabrics one time.  The maid probably wonders whats up with the trash can sometimes.

The point is, I’m making time and setting myself a goal.  Work on something every day.  It might be 15 or 30 minutes, or like today, many hours….  But I’m shooting for EVERY DAY.

I did take a nice break this afternoon to go to the lake with a couple of my friends who embody this type of discipline.  First, my friend Paula, who doesn’t have a stash…. I KNOW!  IMAGINE THAT….  It’s because she finishes what she starts, and then moves on.  Her husband Dave was the reason for the lake outing today.  He built a remote control replica model of a PT boat.  We had yet to see it float, so today seemed like a good time to go.  I couldn’t believe how much detail, and workmanship was in this boat.  I asked Dave if he had any idea how many hours it took.  His response “I worked on it every day for about 6 hours a day, and it took two months”.   How’s that for PERSEVERANCE?

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This boat can really move through the water. It was so fun to watch it go. Thanks again Dave Wingfield!

I hope my blog is inspiring you to work on your projects, too!

Sincerely,

Fellow Quilter,

Brian Clements

Annie B blogging about QOTP

Hello everyone.  I had coffee with my good friend, Annie B on Tuesday.  She mentioned that she completed a blog entry about the Quilts of the Plains show.  I had a few minutes today, so I checked it out.  She always has such descriptive blog posts, and includes wonderful pictures, too!

Here blog is located at http://www.highplainsquilting.com/high_plains_quilting_blog.php

It was nice to read about the show from her perspective… and She and husband, Steve and always willing to lend a helping hand.  I know how busy they both were, as they hosted a party for Steve’s classmates the very next morning.

If you’ve never seen one of Ann’s quilted creations, boy have you missed out…  She finds the coolest fabrics, and makes so many cute things for her family and friends.  We at Foltmer Drug are lucky to offer a few of her things for sale… so if you need a little something special for a dear friend… or yourself, you should give a thought to Annie B!

Lastly, I just want to thank Ann for her support, and thank you for reading my blog.  Feel free to leave me a comment!

Sincerely,

Fellow Quilter,

Brian Clements

QOTP2012 Photos Posted

I took a photo of each quilt in the show, and I’ve uploaded them to an album on my webshots site.  Please click on the link to be taken to my album.  You may post comments to the photos.  I tried to list the quiltmaker and many times the quilt name in the caption under the photo.  You will also find a button on the right hand side to show you a slideshow of all of the images.  There are over 170 images, and you can order prints and other related items on the website.http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/album/583013853CnwwuF?vhost=home-and-garden

Please post your comments regarding the show here on my blog, so that I can hear about your experiences!

We had an awesome grouping of quilts…  129 of them to be exact.  The overall winner was Devonna Haines of Benkelman, Nebraska with her Sun Bonnet Sue Calendar quilt.  Other winners were Keeley Confer, also of Benkelman, Laura Nicks of Loveland, Colorado, Nicole Howard of Saint Francis, Kansas, Sheena Burr of Seibert, Colorado, Millie Bracelin of Wray, Colorado and Anita Hoyer of Elizabeth, Colorado.  Congratulations to all of the viewer’s choice favorites listed… however, each and every one of you who entered quilts was someone’s favorite quilter, so I think you are all winners!

The raffle quilt was won by Gene Bainbridge of Wray, Colorado.  Gene is the Mother of winner Anita Hoyer, a long-time participant in the show, and multiple viewer’s choice winner, as well.

If you have yet to pick up your quilt… they are being saved for you at Rainbow Fabrics in Wray.

Again, enjoy the photos… whether you were able to attend or not.  I think it gives a pretty good representation of the show.

The next years show is scheduled for June 22, 2013 and upcoming details will be posted at www.wraychamber.net/quiltsoftheplains.php so check back periodically for updates.

Sincerely,

Fellow Quilter,

Brian

Jessica Vaughn Class

Hi everyone!  I’ve been a bit absent on the blog this past week.  I’ve been really busy, though… so I thought I’d give a bit of an update.  Last Saturday, June 16th, the Carousel Quilt Guild hosted an all-day class from Jessica Vaughn of Aurora, Colorado.  You can find Jessica on facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/jaymarie0826?ref=ts

The class was using the Bonnie Hunter techniques to work on two projects at the same time.  Bonnie has a load of quilting information on her website… free patterns, tips, etc., so got to http://quiltville.com to check it out.

The main project is a free pattern on Bonnie’s website called Scrappy Trip Around the World http://quiltville.blogspot.com/2005/06/scrappy-trips-around-world.html and here is a photo of many of the blocks from many of the students.  ImageNotice how well the blocks blend together, and although we each have different fabrics in our stash… the blocks are very harmonious.  It is pretty easy to do, and a great way to create something useful out of your odds and ends, or scrap basket.  You should give her technique a try.

ImageAt the same time, we were sewing using the Leaders and Enders technique to work on blocks for a second quilt… this one from the book called “Leaders and Enders” from Bonnie Hunter.  The Blue Ridge Beauty quilt is shown in the book in lovely blues and tans, however, I’ve had this collection of Daiwabo fabrics for several years now, and this seems like a perfect choice for this pattern.  I only got a few blocks done in between strips for the scrappy quilt, but here is a peek at them.

Aside from that, I’ve got the Quilts of the Plains this coming Saturday, June 23rd.  ImageI decided a week ago to pull out a quilt top that I pieced AT LEAST 16 years ago, called Burgoyne Surrounded.  With Independence Day right around the corner, the patriotic nature of this quilt made it jump to the front of the line.  I have another quilt in the show… but, if only I could quilt this up, and get it bound, I could have another, right?  Here it is on the machine, and you can see the design… however, come to the show to see the whole thing.

The quilts are coming in… and there are some beauties!!!!  I hope you’ll join us in Wray on Saturday.  Don’t forget to vote for your favorites, buy some raffle tickets, and bid on the great items at the silent auction.  This event helps raise funds for the Chamber of Commerce for all the events it offers throughout the year.  visit www.wraychamber.net/quiltsoftheplains.php if you want more details.

Quilts of the Plains

Hello again, quilters!  I hope you are excited for Quilts of the Plains.  The 13th annual outdoor quilt show is just one week away. This year’s quilt show will be held on Saturday, June 23.

There is just enough time for you to finish those last minute bindings, and put your newest quilted creation into the show.  Or, maybe you’ve got a project from months, or years ago that could use a bit of fresh air.  We encourage you to exhibit your work for everyone to enjoy.  And who knows… you might be the viewer’s choice quilt, earning you a wonderful new Janome JEM Gold sewing machine, courtesy of all of our sponsors.

Again, I remind everyone that there will be an open sewing night at RR Branded, 305 Main Street in Wray, on Friday evening, sponsored by the local quilt guild, Quilter’s Anonymous.  You are welcome to bring any project that you are working on, and spend an evening with friends.  We will have some items on display; just to give you an idea what this group is all about.  A fun time is guaranteed.

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This is a rendering of the Quilts of the Plains Raffle Quilt 2012. The quilt is pieced using batiks, made by many local quilters… I hear Christine Wade made 35 blocks. Wow! Thanks to all who helped!!!

We are currently selling raffle tickets on a beautiful patchwork quilt.  This quilt would look great in your home, but that won’t be possible, unless you buy a ticket.  The quilt is on display in the window at Rainbow Fabrics, and you can buy tickets there, or from any of our committee members: Shana Gardner, Nicole Harford, Wanda Harford, and myself, Brian Clements.

If you would like to volunteer some time to help with QOTP, we are hosting a party at the home of Joe Foltmer and Brian Clements on Tuesday, June 19th at 6:30pm.  The address is 403 Franklin in Wray.  Dinner will be provided for all of the volunteers, and final assignments will be given at that time. If you can help, please contact Wanda Harford or Shana Gardner.  We appreciate all of the volunteers.

Quilts of the Plains helps the Wray Chamber of Commerce, in their mission to provide activities, such as Wray Daze and the Harvest Festival each year.

Sweetwater Label Crew

Today, I thought I’d do some piecing… so I pulled out the May packet from my friends at Sweetwater.  They do this cool mailing each month called the “Label Crew” and I recently signed up to try it out.  You can read about the label crew, or sign up at http://www.sweetwaterstreet.com/labelcrew.html or just check out their blog at www.sweetwater.typepad.com for some really neat inspiration.

ImageI’ve known Karla for many years, since she first came to Quilts of the Plains back in the late 1990’s.  At that time she had a fabric line called “Farmyard Creations”, and it was pretty cool…. however, I am in love with the colors and prints that this talented trio keeps coming up with.  I get to quilt quite a few of their samples, so when you see one of their patterns in your local quilt shop… it’s a good chance that you’re seeing some of my handiwork.

Anyway, back to the point of this post.  The label crew packet had a pattern for a cool tablerunner made out of large triangles.  You could use a layer-cake of fabric if you want, because you cut them from 9″ squares.  I cut my squares, and then cut the triangles from them.  I had all these other triangles left over… so I decided to sew them together into a long border like strip.  I think it will be a great little runner to decorate with.  It would also make a really cute valance in my quilt studio, too!

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I almost forgot to mention that each month’s label crew mailing comes with the pattern and a coordinating iron on label.  I just don’t know if I’ll use it on the original tablerunner, or use it on my new creation from the left-overs….  I guess you’ll have to wait and see.

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I thought I’d share this idea… maybe you’re in the “Label Crew” too, or just doing some cutting, and having some shapes left over.  Maybe this will inspire you to see what you can come up with.  If you have a good story about using left-overs in a quilt project… Why don’t you leave me a comment…

Have a fun day, and be creative,

Fellow Quilter,

Brian Clements