Friday, February 28, 2014

Back to the real world!!

Ah yes, retreat is over and now it is back to the real world.  What a wonderful 5 days of friends, fabric, food and fun!!!  165 quilters filled the room with sharing, excitement and laughter.  There were times I laughed so hard that I was almost crying - and what a good feeling it was!!!

Phyllis and I packed the car with all our "stuff" - Paula's too - and after a quick stop at Burger King we were on the road.  Three and a half hours later we were unloading, setting up and planning our dinner!!  Sonny's Barbeque has become the dinner of choice for Thursday night - wings, mac and cheese, corn bread and diet Coke!!!  We worked a little that night - mostly getting my stuff set up in the sale room and then it was time for bed!!  Friday is a busy day.  People are on line for check-in at 7 AM.  There's a mad scramble for tables, but always time for a quick hello and hug as everyone settles in. By 10 AM everyone is pretty much set up and the machines are humming!! This time we even had someone sewing on a treadle machine!! 

Everyone is hard at work!!!
Starla's Singer treadle machine

There's a break for lunch and the line up starts for the sale room.  Shopping starts at 1 PM and the shoppers are ready and eager.  $13,000.00 worth of merchandise was sold this time!!  The old adage - one man's trash is another man's treasure - holds true here!!  Fabric, quilt tops, quilt kits, quilts, sewing machines, handbags, Longaberger baskets were all available and people were scooping it up.  Here's a couple of photos of the 2 sale rooms just before the shoppers hit them.  It was pretty much all gone by Saturday night!!

Lots of great stuff for sale!!

It would be impossible to get pictures of all the projects/quilt tops/quilts/etc that are finished, but here are some photos of just a few of them.

Diane and her completed Appomattox Courthouse quilt top!! 

Heather created this Shih Tzu from a friend's photo!! 

Gloria's mice and bunnies!!

The age span of the quilters - Shaunna Taylor and Shirley Smith

 A big part of the retreat is the presentation of the Quilts of Valor that are made by many of the attendees.  The quilts are shared with the group and then presented to representatives from Camp Blanding for their in-house programs.  All of the quilts that were turned in will remain in Florida and be presented to soldiers and their families.  Bonnie McCarty and Barbara Enos probably lead the group with the number of quilts they have each made.  This retreat they turned in 6 quilts for the program.  Tree City Quilters turned in 8 patriotic pillowcases.  Thank you ladies for all of your hard work!!!  

Bonnie and Barbara and some of their beautiful Quilts of Valor quilts!!

Many people left on Sunday, but a few diehards stayed until Tuesday.  Gloria planned a number of demos for us.  She shared how to make a casserole cover (I was hoping she would share a casserole too, but apparently that wasn't on her agenda!!).  Vicky demoed cutting a fat quarter for their Pots of Plenty pattern.  I demoed some basic piecing techniques - accurate seam allowance, Spinning Stars, trimming usually a bias square ruler and making a miter border and English Paper Piecing.  Phyllis demoed making a t-shirt jacket and her Sweet and Sassy rhombus template and diamond template.  Here she is with the diamond template group.

I sometimes find myself getting a little sleepy when I am sewing and there's been a couple of times when I've even fallen asleep and almost hit the top of my sewing machine (yes, I know that's pretty sad), but if I get up and walk out of the room to go and take a "little rest" I will wake myself up.  I've come up with a handy little method for taking a nap while still at the sewing machine.  I rest my head in my hands and just close my eyes.  I just make certain that my elbows are propped carefully on the table.  This has become a joke with my friends and I will often get a text from Gloria telling me she has just taken a "Mary Ellen nap".  Well this time, Gloria caught me and actually took a photo - you may have seen it on Facebook - but if you didn't - here I am!!!  Just a minute or two is usually all I need.
Paula arrived on Friday after her lectures and workshops with the Gwinnett Quilters Guild and Etowah Valley Quilt Guild of Georgia.  She drove down with a fellow retreater and Etowah Valley guild member.  I think she enjoyed the chance to relax and sew after her busy month of moving.  Rumor has it she goes a little crazy if you say the words "unpack a box" around her!!!!  Can't imagine why!!  She shared her dilemma of "downsizing" (such an ugly word) her sewing room on the Marcus Fabrics' Marcus Mentions blog the other day.  "How Paula Barnes Lost Her Ultimate Sewing Space"

In between packing and unpacking, Paula has been designing new fabric collections and quilts.  Now that I am back from the retreat, I will be getting to work on some of the new quilts.  I'll have photos of the new collections to share on my next post!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Back Again

Yes it has been awhile since I last posted and yes I could list all of the reasons - pre and post holiday events, Disney World trip, houseful of company, retreats, personal sewing, business sewing, etc, etc - but I won't do that.  Suffice it to say, I'm back!!!  I will try to be better and more timely with my posting, but I'm not making any promises!!!! Sometimes life has a way of just plain getting in the way!!!

I've been much better about sharing on Instagram and Facebook, so many of you have seen what I've been working on - both business and personal quilts.  I completed our new version of Harriet's Baskets (I'll share a photo when I have it back again) and it is off at the quilters and I've almost finished a new quilt - Lilly.  Lots of personal quilts, though.  

Why only 2 business quilts you ask?  Well someone, namely the designer - Paula - has been just a little busy for the past few months.  Paula sold her home and just recently completed the move.  She downsized (such an ugly word) and is still dealing with some unpacking.  If you have ever moved, then you know what she has been dealing with - rooms that are filled with the boxes that need to emptied in that room, but no place to move because of the boxes!!!!  She's sent some photos and it is really taking shape.  I know it is going to be just beautiful!!!  I'll be visiting in March, so I will take photos and share.

Sewing room - unpacked

Unpacking and set up has begun!!!
Right now she is on the road in Georgia.  She spent Tuesday and today with the Gwinnett Quilters' Guild in Snellville.  Tuesday was her lecture and a visit to Little Quilts in Marietta and today was her workshop on Regimental Star.  This afternoon she traveled to Cartersville, GA to lecture at the Etowah Valley Quilt Guild and tomorrow is her workshop on Star of the West quilt.  AND then finally on Friday she travels to Florida for our Camp Blanding retreat!!!  YAY, I get some much needed Paula-time.

Paula and Mary Ellen Van Holt (the other Mary Ellen) the owner of Little Quilts
Paula lecturing at the Guild.  That's our Glory Bound she's talking about!!
Guild Show and Tell and a beautiful version of Glory Bound.
Paula and Julie Boyer and her version of Long Road Home.  Another beautiful quilt.
There are some very talented ladies in this guild.  A special thank you to Becky for sharing these photos with me.

So tomorrow Phyllis (Silver Thimble Quilt Shop) and I will pack up my van and head off to Camp Blanding for 5 days of friends (180 quilters), fabric and food - the trifecta for a successful retreat.  Gloria Parsons of Olde Green Cupboard sponsors, organizes, plans and basically keeps 180 quilters happy for 5 days - it is truly a miracle!!!

2 of everything (remember, I bring all the equipment that Paula will need - sewing machine, tables, tools,etc) is lined up in my hallway and ready to go.  I have some personal projects - Bordeaux for my son and d-i-l -  and some business projects - Lilly.
Hope this is all going to fit in the van!!!  No suitcase or food bags yet too!!

Blocks and alternate block fabric for Lilly

Bordeaux for Brett and Mere - of course it had to be made bigger!!
My plan is to try and post from the retreat, but I'm going to have to use my iPad.  I've never done this before, so we'll have to see if it works!!  With 180 quilters there, I'm sure there will be someone that can offer assistance!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

PS - Just checked my Power Ball numbers - lost again!!! At this rate I will never be able to build my house on Pass-a-Grille Beach!!!  Any lucky readers??